Special session giving Duterte extra powers are Invalid & Unconstitutional - Lagman

Special session giving Duterte extra powers are Invalid & Unconstitutional - Lagman

Veteran lawmaker Albay representative Edcel Lagman made public in saying that the special session called for by both houses of Congress which granted President Rodrigo Roa Duterte special powers to fight the novel coronavirus 2019 disease or COVID-19 epidemic were invalid.

Lagman is one of the nine House members who voted against the passage of the “Bayanihan To Heal As One Bill,”arguing that the deliberations conducted and the voting done are unlawful. The vote result was 284 Yes after the third reading.

The unprecedented system of session via electronic platforms was “not legal because the innovation was not validly effected by a proper amendment of the existing pertinent House rule/practice requiring the physical presence of members in the plenary hall for the determination of a quorum and ascertainment of the requisite vote,”according to Lagman.

Albay representative Edcel Lagman
(photo credit to owner)

He further alleges that the suspension or amendment of the House rules to allow online and text voting “was not even formally moved, requested or required.”

Another technical ground, Lagman said the special session as a “sham” because Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano announced the presence of a quorum “without a roll call and with a declaration that practically all members are purportedly on ‘official business’ in their respective constituencies in order to consider them ‘present’ but without the right to vote in absentia.”

“Consequently, House Bill No. 6616 was invalidly passed.”

Bill is unconstitutional because realignment of items in the 2020 in the national budget was already enacted into a law last January.

“Authorizing the President to cause the ‘discontinuance of appropriated programs, projects or activities’ to generate forced savings demeans the congressional power of the purse and even allows the President to dismantle funds appropriated by the Congress in the (General Appropriations Act) GAA,” he said.

No need for additional budget

Lagman is convinced there is no need to give additional money to Duterte because there are adequate funding under the 2020 GAA to respond to COVID-19, noting there is a P13 billion contingency fund.

“Under Section 66 of the General Provisions of the GAA, the President is already authorized to use legitimate savings in the executive department and to augment deficient appropriations from such savings,” he pointed out.
“The grant of additional emergency powers to the President to combat COVID-19 is unnecessary because he has express and inherent powers as Chief Executive which he has been discharging nationwide to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus,” the lawmaker added.
The other eight House members who voted against  the bill were all members of the Makabayan bloc - Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago; Magdalo Rep. Manuel Cabochan III and Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr.  

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Report from PhilStar

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