Drilon Cool to Expanded Emergency Powers

Article excerpt

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon doused off cold water yesterday to a proposal granting expanded emergency powers to President Estrada aimed at speeding up infrastructure projects not only in Mindanao but in the entire country.

Drilon's reluctance came as President Estrada enthusiastically welcomed the idea of expanding the emergency powers he originally asked Congress exclusively to accelerate the turtle-paced progress in the war-torn South.

"I do not think it can stand Constitutional tests. I do not even think it will gain support in the Senate," he said in a press conference, referring to a proposal by Sulu Rep. Hussin Amin to expand emergency powers to the whole country.

The Senate chief argued that the proposed expanded or special emergency powers will give President Estrada "a sweeping power" that could reverse a decision of any government agency, including the Judiciary.

"That way it is worded can include Congress and Judiciary. I do not think it can pass Constitutional test," Drilon, a former justice secretary, added.

However, Drilon said once such proposal is eventually filed in his chamber, he said he will subject it under the usual legislative process, and to be deliberated upon by an appropriate Senate committee.

Senate President Pro Tempore Blas Ople has yet to file the measure granting the President emergency powers to speed up foreign-funded projects in Mindanao once Congress opens its third regular session on July 24.

He also assured that the Senate will resume plenary debates on the Anti-Injunction Act which would prohibit the lower courts to issue temporary restraining orders against infrastructure development projects.

Earlier, Sen. Renato Cayetano, chairman of the Senate justice committee, said President Estrada would not need either an emergency or special power once the Anti-Injunction Bill he authored is eventually passed into law.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel said, for his part, that the Cayetano measure will certainly curtail the basic rights of the citizens to air their grievances against the government. (Ferdie J. Maglalang)

Assurance

President Joseph Estrada has received an assurance from lawmakers that they will consider the passage of specific provisions of the extra powers he is seeking from Congress aimed at accelerating rehabilitation and development efforts in Mindanao.

Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora said these include measures that would speedily resolve right-of-way concerns and stop lower courts from issuing temporary restraining orders on government infrastructure projects. …