Ople Files Emergency Powers Bill
Senate President Pro Tempore Blas F. Ople filed yesterday Senate Bill 2095 known as the ''Mindanao Rehabilitation and Accelerated Development Council'' which President Estrada needs in fast-tracking the development of Mindanao, particularly its battle-scarred and lowgrowth central plains.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has accepted the invitation of Sen. Ople to be the co-author of the bill, saying the constitution allows Congress to delegate emergency powers to the President in times of national emergency. "Doubtless, the Mindanao crisis is such a national emergency," she said.
"Unless sooner withdrawn by resolution of Congress, such power will cease upon the next adjournment thereof," Ople said in explaining his measure after filing it coinciding with the opening of the third regular session of the 11th Congress.
Ople is a ranking official of the pro-administration Lapian ng Masang Pilipino (LAMP).
Critics had opposed the proposed Emergency Powers Law that Malacanang and some House of Representatives members wanted filed before or during the opening of the regular congressional session claiming that such powers are too broad that persons close to Malacanang are sure to benefit financially.
The purpose of the bill which is separate from the one being crafted by Malacanang, said Ople, is to empower the President "to cut the enormous ball of red tape that blocks the development of Mindanao at at time when there is no choice but for that development to succeed, because it is crucial to the safety and welfare of the entire nation."
Ople stressed that the bill seeks to grant limited powers, specifically for the rehabilitation of war-torn areas of Mindanao for two years only.
"It is intended to speed up the rehabilitation, economic development, and normalization of the situation, leading Mindanao to a desirable situation for business, local, and foreign investments and integration with various sectors for effectiveness of programs and projects," Ople said.
Ople said that there are sufficient safeguards in the grant of powers as the powers to be granted the President are "limited and specific in nature and are aimed solely to cope with the crisis."
A provision of the Ople bill seeks the creation of a Mindanao Coordinating Council (MCC) whose chairman is the President of the Republic and the Executive Secretary as vice chairman and a private sector representative from Mindanao as co-Vice Chairmen.
Members of the MCC include five coming from the business, religious and non-government organizations (NGOs) as members. Four of the five will come from Mindanao.
The other members are the Secretaries of Public Works, Budget and Management, Finance, Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Education, Health and Economic Planning, and the chairman of the Presidential Committee on Flagship Programs and Projects, chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and representative of the chairmen of the Regional Development Councils in Mindanao. …