Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday insisted that the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act, which gives President Rodrigo Duterte special authority to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, is deemed repealed after Congress adjourned its session sine die.
"Sa ngayon, expired na ang batas. Iyan ay nakalagay sa Saligang Batas at maliwanag na yung Bayanihan ay emergency powers," Drilon said in a Dobol B sa News TV interview.
Drilon was citing Article VI, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that unless sooner withdrawn through a resolution by Congress, the powers given by Congress to the President during a national emergency "shall cease upon the next adjournment thereof."
Congress adjourned its session last Friday.
"Hindi na pwedeng manghuli dahil sa fake news, hindi na pwedeng manghuli dahil sa lumabag sa curfew. Hindi na pwedeng manghuli ang police dahilan sa prohibition against mass gathering. Iyan ay hindi na pwedeng gamitin dahil nag-expire na ang batas," Drilon pointed out.
But, Drilon clarified that the expiration of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act should not be a reason to discontinue the distribution of emergency cash subsidies to low-income families who still have not received theirs.
He pointed out that the Constitution gives the President the power to realign funds for measures to respond to a national emergency or pandemic.
"Ang kapangyarihan na magbigay ng tulong sa tao tulad ng SAP (Social Amelioration Program) ay dahilan sa budget, yung General Appropriations Act. At ang General Appropriations Act ang siyang authority para sa Pangulo na gumastos ng pera ng taumbayan," Drilon said.
"Sa ating Saligang Batas, binibigyan siya ng kapangyarihan na i-align o ilipat ang ibang pondo para sa mga bagay na pangangailangan dahilan sa pandemic. Yung kapangyarihan ay nakalagay sa ating Saligang Batas, hindi lang sa Bayanihan Act," he added.
Moreover, Drilon said if the Department of Social Welfare and Development is already short of funds for the emergency cash subsidies, realignments in the national budget may be made from other departments.
"Halimbawa sa intelligence fund o sa DND, pwedeng ilipat sa DSWD, DOLE o DOH. Kahit wala kaming ipinasa ay kung ibig ng pamahalaan, may 4PS, may TUPAD program, iyan ay kayang dagdadagan ng pondo na manggagaling sa national budget," he said.
"Responsibilidad ng ating mga cabinet member na tingnan kung ano ang pwedeng maitulong. Responsibilidad ng pamahalaan na tingnan ang kalagayan ng pamahalaan, may COVID man o wala," he added.
Malacañang, however, maintained that the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act will expire on June 25, or three months after its effectivity in accordance to the law itself.
"We maintain that the effectivity of the Bayanihan Act is governed by [the] sunset clause of the law. It is effective until June 25, 2020," he said.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, around 18 million low-income households belonging to the informal sector will be targeted to receive monthly emergency subsidies amounting to P5,000 to P8,000 for two months. —LBG, GMA News