Emergency Powers in the time of COVID-19
Even as a “public discussion” of whether a grant of emergency powers to the President was called for at this time, Congressional action passed on such authority to the Executive, as reported on 23 March 2020.
Two law professors from the UP College of Law were sought out by media for their legal take on the subject. Professor Dante B. Gatmaytan – interviewed on 22 March and Professor Antonio La Vina in an Opinion on 23 March – both argued against the proposal.
They both opined that the President has enough authority under the Constitution and existing laws without resort to extraordinary powers. “Emergency powers should only be a last resort, because they ultimately grant to the executive a wide array of powers that is heavily guarded against by the Bill of Rights and the provisions on the independence and separation of the three branches of government.”
In the meantime Dr. Pacifico Agabin, past Dean of the College, and Professor Tony La Vina, along with Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties issued a statement against the grant of emergency powers to the President. Among other arguments, they drew attention to the omission of a “definite termination date and can be extended upon congressional approval.”
There is general aggreement in these legal opinions that “what is required is an effective plan to counteract the public health crisis balanced by an appropriate economic response which will provide for the needs of communities under quarantine.”
The full reportage may be accessed at: