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MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act should expire on June 25, but there’s a constitutional provision on emergency powers that say otherwise.
“We maintain that the effectivity of the Bayanihan Act is governed by [the] sunset clause of the law. It is effective until June 25, 2020,” said Roque in a statement Saturday, June 6.
Roque added that it’s because of the “letters and intent of legislation.”
But lawmakers and constitutional experts don’t think so. Bayanihan Act, or Republic Act 11469, gave the President 30 special powers, including the cancellation of appropriated programs or activites and use these savings to fund coronavirus measures.
Another power is to use these funds to give financial aid to low-income to millions of families and give health workers a special risk allowance on top of their hazard pay.
The special powers listed under the Section 4 of Bayanihan Act are “pursuant under Article VI Section 23(2) of the Constitution.” This provision states that emergency powers granted by Congress to the President will cease once session adjourns.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also pointed this out and said that the long title of Bayanihan Act explicitly mentioned “an act declaring the existence of a national emergency” because of the pandemic.
“It is clear that the intention was to authorize the President for a limited period to carry out a declared national policy during the emergency, pursuant to Art VI, Sec 23 (2) of the Constitution,” Drilon told Rappler on Saturday.
“The powers granted under Bayanihan Act are effectively withdrawn by constitutional fiat as of that date, notwithstanding the provision of the law which states that it shall be in force for 3 months or until June 25. The Constitution takes precedence over ordinary legislation,” Drilon added.
Further, Congress was not able to approve the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill, or the “Bayanihan 2,” which seeks to extend the programs under RA 11469, as the President did not certify it as urgent. Malacañang earlier said it wants Bayanihan Act to be extended for another 3 months.
Without the certification, the Senate was not able to pass it on final reading, while its House counterpart remained at the plenary.
Bayanihan 2 bill is not an emergency powers measure, because of the very same limitation on the Constitution. Because if so, then special powers would have ended on Friday too, as pointed out by Senator Panfilo Lacson during the plenary debates on the bill. – with a report from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com