Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyers Chel Diokno and Thedore Te have expressed opposition to grant emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte amid the spread of the deadly 2019 coronavirus (COVID-19).
“The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) opposes the proposed grant of emergency powers to the President, as contained in Senate Bill No. 1413 and House Bill No. 6616,” stated the position paper signed by Diokno who is FLAG chairman and Te, former Supreme Court (SC) spokesman.
The FLAG lawyers explained the emergency powers sought are “either superfluous and unnecessary, as they are already vested in the Executive Branch by existing laws.”
“The emergency powers proposed to be granted would result in an undue delegation of legislative powers and a violation of the separation of powers,” they added.
The lawyers said the bills “seek to confer powers that are already conferred by existing laws and fail to set forth a national policy, as required by the Constitution.”
They pointed out Republic Act 11332, the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act, already has “a definition of public health emergency, a response to such, and specific objectives, powers, and penalties.”
“The grant of emergency powers, as proposed by the Senate and House bills, may not be the solution to the Covid19 pandemic at this time,” the FLAG lawyers stated.
“Notice should be taken that other countries have not resorted to passage of extraordinary measures to combat the pandemic, choosing instead to rely on evidence-based strategies and scientific solutions,” they added.