PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte must be granted emergency powers to address swiftly the drugs and terrorism issues.
To address the two problems Deputy Speaker Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo filed House Bill 3684 seeking special authority for the President.
The Duterte administration is at present eying emergency powers for the Department of Transportation to end the worsening traffic situation.
Arroyo on the other hand is proposing another emergency power which is exclusively for battling the drug menace and terrorism.
House Bill 3684 proposes to establish a national policy to authorize the President, in accordance with the Constitution, to exercise necessary and proper powers to address drugs and terrorism in the country.
“The Philippines is currently suffering from a national emergency, involving drugs, terrorism, lawlessness, which threatens the very life of the nation and our people,” Arroyo said.
Reports showed that the nationwide drug proliferation rate is 27 percent with 3.7 million illegal drug users nationwide while the affected youth comprise one percent of the total population.
In the latest report of the United Nations, it shows that 94 percent of all barangays in Metro Manila have been drug infiltrated.
Nationwide, illegal drugs pandemic rate is 27 percent or 11,321 out of 42,036 affected barangays. In addition, the Philippines has the highest abuse rate for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu in East Asia.
Arroyo’s bill seeks to “protect civil liberties and promote checks and balances under Article 6, section 23 (2) of the Constitution.”
The bill enumerated the distinct powers to be granted to the President such as: to fortify law enforcement agencies of the government and for this purpose, to train law enforcement personnel, reorganize, abolish or create offices, split group or merge positions, transfer functions, equipment, properties, records and personnel, institute cost-cutting measures and take other related actions.
Also, special powers to appoint special prosecutors from the National Prosecution Service, whose office will be open 24 hours every day including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, to receive complaints, conduct preliminary investigation and file information in cases involving illegal drugs and terrorism.
The bill mandates the President to appoint special defense counsels from the PAO who shall be working 24/7.
The defense counsel shall issue hold departure orders and orders limiting the right to travel of persons involved; shall examine records, logbooks and registers in cases involving these crimes; shall inquire into or examine deposits and investments involved in these crimes and shall issue freeze orders against bank accounts involved in these crimes.
The powers also cover the transfer of illegal drug prisoners to appropriate prison and detention facilities and convert existing buildings and structures into such jails.
The bill also seeks to create special courts to hear cases involving illegal drugs and terrorism in every judicial region, the judges of whom and the issuance of processes shall be available 24 hours every day including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
The bill likewise imposes a curfew for minors 18 years and below from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian or adult relative within the 4th civil degree.
It also limits to the Supreme Court the power to issue injunctions against the implementation of the law.
The emergency powers will be valid only for 6 months or 180 days from implementation.