House lawmakers thumb down emergency powers for Aquino

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Monday, January 13, 2014

MANILA -- Members of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., a close ally of the chief executive, junked proposals to grant President Benigno Aquino III emergency powers to address an impending power rate hike.

"What does the President say to it? He has not even asked for it," Belmonte said.

Over the weekend, Eastern Samar Representative Ben Evardone urged Congress to study the possibility of granting Aquino emergency powers to deal with two "catastrophic problems" -- the rising cost of power which was halted by a Supreme Court-issued temporary restraining order and the lack of mass transit in Metro Manila and other nearby provinces.

Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares, and Gabriela party-list Representative Luzviminda Ilagan strongly opposed Evardone's proposal.

"To a president which is hard headed and allergic to criticisms or suggestions then no amount of emergency powers can solve the country's problems. What he can do is certify urgent the bills to amend Epira," Colmenares said referring to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

Several bills amending the Epira are pending before the House committee on energy.

Ilagan, for her part, said that the proposal of Evardone, a close ally of President Aquino, is an "unnecessary, politically-motivated and dangerous move."

"We had faced more urgent concerns before and they did not warrant emergency powers or leaders rejected this call resoundingly when political lackeys proposed it. Mindanao hasn't had mass transit system for decades despite a strong need for one now but sensible leaders have not asked for emergency powers," she said.

Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. meanwhile noted that granting emergency powers would only discourage business investors to the country.

"I personally think that the prevailing circumstances do not warrant the exercise of emergency powers by the president. All the systems are in placed to address the present problems," he added.

Cibac party-list Representative Sherwin Tugna said Congress should at least consider the proposal.

"Although some may question its unconstitutionality because the 1987 Constitution is very strict in granting vast powers to the President, it is best to put these proposals on the table and be subjected to consideration and debate," Tugna said. (Sunnex)

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