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Close watch on emergency powers pressed

  • Written by Bernadette E. Tamayo
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 196

SENATOR Grace Poe has raised the need to form an oversight panel to closely monitor the implementation of the emergency powers Congress is “poised” to grant President Rodrigo Duterte.

She said that legislators are “duty-bound” to review the emergency powers to ensure the executive department will not abuse them. Poe said that government transactions must be transparent and compliant with the Freedom of Information (FOI).
    
The oversight panel, which will be composed of members from the Senate and the House of Representatives, is one of the safeguards that lawmakers wanted to put in place in agreeing to Malacanang’s request for the extraordinary powers to resolve the traffic problem in Metro Manila and other urban centers.
    
Transportation officials appealed to senators Wednesday during the Senate hearing on proposals to grant the President emergency powers to urgently deal with the traffic mess and other transportation problems. They assured the senators that such extra powers, to be exercised by the President for two years, will not be abused.
 
Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services that handled the inquiry, also allayed concerns over the proposed emergency powers, saying Congress can withdraw such powers if deemed necessary. “I think that we should only fear it if Congress does not have the power to withdraw such emergency powers.”
    
“If they need those emergency powers to be able to acquire right of way, properties, or to be able to facilitate faster relations with the local government units, why not? Again, there’s that particular provision where Congress can take it back anytime if we feel that it’s not needed anymore,” said Poe.
    
“We can put also other certain conditions like there will be an oversight committee composed of some members from the House and some members from the Senate to make sure all the deliverables are complied with,” she said.
    
“I am supportive but we are not abdicating our role in also checking on the executive. That it is really important. We have to tread the fine line between being supportive and being permissive and being cautious and being an obstructionist. That is why there are three branches of government and not just one so that we can support each other but we can also police each other,” said Poe.
 
“Conditions such as ensuring the track record of the supplier, enough capitalization of suppliers and no conflict of interest are among the details that senators wanted to see in the final form of the emergency measure,” she said.
    
She added: “I would like to see this administration succeed but I am not going to give up my role to make sure that they actually do it according to the processes that are laid out to become a law.”