Emergency powers not necessary

PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino needs no emergency powers in dealing with the evacuation of Filipinos trapped in Libya, contrary to the sense of Congress that the government will be helpless in responding to the idle East crisis.

Although Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. has assured that Congress was  ready to grant President Aquino emergency powers requested, there is definitely no need for them as they may only breed corruption in high places.

Emergency powers would mean, among other things, to procure supplies for the evacuation without the required bidding processes the previous administrations were so famous for.

“The thing about the emergency powers is that the President has not asked for it,” Belmonte said. “But if he does, and the situation warrants it, we will support him.”

All that the present administration needs is a little resourcefulness and a lot of logic to evacuate the Filipino workers and to bring them home to the Philippines. Finding new jobs for them is another thing, an almost impossible assignment the Aquino III may not be able to tackle given the apparent the brilliance that we still want to see and feel.

Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento and Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Teodorico Haresco said Congress should be prepared to grant extra-ordinary powers to Aquino once the violence spreading in the Middle East and North Africa would lead to another global oil crisis and trigger the return of millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The other lawmakers also urged the President to immediately convene an inter-agency meeting to draft long-term plans on the deployment of Filipino workers abroad due to the spreading turmoil in Middle East countries as well as emerging risks in other labor markets. There are over eight million OFWs worldwide.

That will take time owing to a bureaucracy that has hampered previous evacuation efforts in countries similarly situated. While the stranded Filipinos are crying for action, Congress and the Palace with their bright boys not knowing how to assess the situation will call for costly and never-ending meetings and conferences that end up disastrously.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has also expressed support for the possible grant of emergency powers to Aquino, even as the Chief Executive hinted it was not needed at this stage.

For once, President Noy is right. He does not need such emergency powers. Only the corrupt would benefit from them.

“For the Senate, I’d like to say that whether we grant the President emergency powers or not, if he acts in order to protect our citizens abroad and to serve the interest of this country, the Senate will support him,” Enrile said.

Truth to tell,  President Noy said there was no time for discussions. What the president needs is a man who can decisively act on the situation. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the government was taking it one step at a time, insisting that the priority of this administration at this time is how to repatriate the OFWs at the soonest possible time.-Raul Valino

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