Emergency authority questioned

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BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO

Bacolod Councilor Wilson Gamboa, Jr. questioned the proposed ordinance granting “emergency authority” to Mayor Evelio Leonardia as “unsettling, disturbing, distressing and absurd” for the people of Bacolod.

“Said emergency authority should be the least of our priorities because all powers, authorities, solutions and recommendations are embedded in the police powers of the local government unit (LGU) under the Local Government Code and in all guidelines, rules and directives issued by the National Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF),” Gamboa said in a press release.

He said the ordinanceis double-edged, ambiguous, and equivocal, considering that it is giving “blanket authority” to the mayor and evidently short of “strict parameters”.

He said it would reduce all instrumentalities of the Bacolod local government including the Sangguniang Panlungsod at the mercy and whimsical decision of the mayor.

Gamboa said that an emergency authority for the mayor is “over-stretching” the Constitution by pushing the mayor to decide for himself certain policies, advocacies and interpretations all in the name of the Covid-19 pandemic that could go beyond the limits and constitute a violation or a crime.

He said the SP is a separate branch and the power for “check and balance” it holds is sacred and for it to surrender and that power would only demean it as an institution.

“Let the SP be part of the solution by creating policies and strategies. SP should be pro-active, prospective and aggressive in crafting legislations to combat this Covid 19 pandemic. This is what we are supposed to do and this is what we should be doing,” Gamboa said.

“Legislations are important and helpful in securing our community and the City from Covid-19 local transmission. It seems that the SP has no stake in the solution except to grant the emergency authority and have nothing more to do with it,” he said.

Councilor Renecito Novero, author of the ordinance, said that if they do not give the mayor emergency powers his hands will be tied by the do’s and don’ts stipulated in the memorandum circular of the IATF under the present quarantine status of the city which is Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).

Novero said the mayor can use the emergency powers to restrict the movement of the people to prevent the spread of the virus based on the opinion of experts on infectious diseases.

He said the medical experts believe that if the movement of the people will be restricted the virus will not spread at a very fast rate.

“If not stopped, everyone will be infected so this should be stopped through an emergency by way of an abnormal and emergency measure.
This cannot be solved by way of a normal approach and design,” Novero said.

During a virtual meeting, Undersecretary Cesar Yano, representing the national IATF, said an ordinance may be passed by the local government unit authorizing the exercise by the mayor of certain emergency prerogatives to address and arrest the increasing contagion of COVID-19 in the city.*

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