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Emergency powers for Duterte backed

Allies of President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte in the House of Representatives yesterday backed the proposal seeking to grant emergency powers for the incoming populist Chief Executive to effectively address terrorism, illegal drugs, and the monstrous traffic situation in the country.

Outgoing 1-BAP partylist Rep. Silvestre Bello III, the incoming Labor Secretary, and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez agreed with incoming Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson that Congress should grant emergency powers to the incoming president, saying that extraordinary problems need extraordinary measures.

“Terrorism, illegal drugs, and extremely terrible traffic situation has clearly reached critical levels and certainly require emergency powers,” Bello said in a text message.

Rodriguez, who rallied behind the presidential bid of Duterte during the May 9 polls, said, “These are extraordinary problems needing extraordinary actions. We have to stop terrorism, illegal drugs, and heavy traffic. Limited and specific emergency powers for President Duterte is necessary!”

Outgoing House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr. also backed Lacson’s proposal, but said the parameters of the emergency powers should be defined first.

“Emergency powers vs ASG, yes. But we should spell out meaning of emergency power,” he said in a text message.

Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, proposed that Duterte be given emergency powers to match the Abu Sayyaf’s brutality following the beheading of Canadian Robert Hall, who was held captive in Sulu for the past nine months.

Hall’s severed head was recovered near the Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu Monday. (Charissa M. Luci)