MANILA - Former President and now House Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has filed a bill seeking to grant emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to address a national emergency against drugs and terrorism.
House Bill 3684, filed on September 20, proposes to establish a national policy to authorize the President, in accordance with the Constitution, to exercise necessary and proper powers to address drugs and terrorism in the country.
"The Philippines is currently suffering from a national emergency, involving drugs, terrorism, lawlessness, which threatens the very life of the nation and our people," Arroyo said in her bill's explanatory note.
The note further cites that recent statistics show that the nationwide drug proliferation rate is 27 percent with 3.7 million illegal drug users nationwide while the affected youth comprise one percent of the total population.
The explanatory note added the 2011 United Nations world drug report which shows that 94 percent of all barangays in Metro Manila have been drug infiltrated.
Nationwide, illegal drugs pandemic rate is 27 percent or 11,321 out of 42,036 barangays. In addition, the Philippines has the highest abuse rate for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu in East Asia.
Arroyo's bill seeks to "protect civil liberties and promote checks and balances under Article 6, section 23 (2) of the Constitution.”
The following powers are sought by the bill for the President:
- to fortify law enforcement agencies of the government and for this purpose, to train law enforcement personnel, reorganize, abolish or create offices, split group or merge positions, transfer functions, equipment, properties, records and personnel, institute cost-cutting measures and take other related actions
-to appoint special prosecutors from the National Prosecution Service, whose office will be open 24 hours every day including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, to receive complaints, conduct preliminary investigation and file information in cases involving illegal drugs and terrorism
-to appoint special defense counsels from the PAO who shall be working 24/7
-to issue hold departure orders and orders limiting the right to travel of persons
-to examine records, logbooks and registers in cases involving these crimes
-to inquire into or examine deposits and investments involved in these crimes
-to issue freeze orders against bank accounts involved in these crimes
-to issue orders to suspend the application of the anti-wiretapping law for these crimes
-to transfer and separate terrorism and illegal drugs related prisoners to appropriate prison and detention facilities
-to convert existing buildings and structure to appropriate prison or detention facilities
-to initiate the construction and building of separate and isolated maximum security prison and detention facilities for high risk terrorists and drug lords
-and to authorize alternative modes of procurement in procuring relevant infrastructure projects, good and consulting services, including but not limited to forensic laboratories, prison or detention facilities and law enforcement tools
The bill also seeks to create special courts to hear cases involving illegal drugs and terrorism in every judicial region, the judges of whom and the issuance of processes shall be available 24 hours every day including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
The bill likewise imposes a curfew for minors 18 years and below from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. unless accompanied by a parent or guardian or adult relative within the 4th civil degree.
It also limits to the Supreme Court the power to issue injunctions against the implementation of the law.
The emergency powers will be valid only for 6 months or 180 days from implementation.