Contact Details

Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 2 931 5497, +63 2 931 5001 local 7370

I vote No to House Bill No. 6616, which was originally crafted by Malacañang, for the following reasons:

  1. The new system of virtual plenary session and distance electronic voting, under which House Bill No. 6616 was adopted, is not legal because the innovation was not validly effected by a proper amendment of the existing pertinent House rule/practice requiring the physical presence of Members in the plenary hall for the determination of a quorum and ascertainment of the requisite vote.

    The suspension or amendment of the Rules of the House was not even formally moved, requested or required.

  2. Moreover, the special session was a sham after the Speaker announced the presence of a quorum without a roll call and with a declaration that practically all Members are purportedly on “official business” in their respective constituencies in order to consider them “present” but without the right to vote in absentia.

  3. Consequently, House Bill No. 6616 was invalidly “passed”.

  4. Authorizing the President to cause the “discontinuance of appropriated programs, projects or activities” to generate forced savings demeans the congressional power of the purse and even allows the President to dismantle funds appropriated by the Congress in the GAA. This extraordinary budgetary power may constitute “transfer of funds” prohibited by Section 25 of Article VI, and therefore, unconstitutional.

  5. House Bill No. 6616 is a surplusage because there are adequate response funds in the 2020 GAA, including the President’s Contingent Fund of P13-B which is barely touched, all of which can be readily implemented without need for realignment. Under the General Provisions of the GAA (Sections 66), the President is already authorized to use legitimate savings in the Executive Department and to augment deficient appropriations from such savings.

    In fact, the bill does not even include a supplemental budget and/or an economic stimulus package.

    The expected rise in the number of patients who will test positive for COVID-19 is due not to the escalation of the deadly virus but because of the increase and more extensive use of test kits which have been made more available recently. There is also no need for legislation for the provision of ample supply of test kits and protective personal equipment (PPEs).

  6. The grant of additional emergency powers to the President to combat COVID-19 is unnecessary because he has express and inherent powers as Chief Executive which he has been discharging nationwide to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. There is no need to exacerbate the fears of citizens and businesses with a surfeit of Presidential emergency powers considering that extraordinary powers have been abused and misused in the past.

  7. In all other countries assaulted by COVID-19, no national parliament has granted its President or Prime Minister additional emergency powers to fight the pandemic, and no other President or Prime Minister has requested for any additional powers to address the public health emergency.

  8. What is needed is a well-prepared supplemental budget, which must be adopted after the resumption of sessions starting May 4, 2020, to:

    1. Adequately fund an economic stimulus package to ameliorate affected citizens and displaced workers, and provide relief to distressed businesses, particularly micro and small industries; and

    2. Fully replenish the amounts disbursed from the funds originally appropriated to the concerned national agencies which were disbursed to address the pandemic.