Press Release
June 6, 2008

Pia: No basis for granting emergency powers to GMA

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today vehemently opposed plans to grant emergency powers to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to enable her to grapple with the country's food and oil crisis.

"First of all, it is Congress that may, by law, authorize the President, subject to such restrictions Congress may prescribe, to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy. The President alone cannot make such declaration," she stressed.

"Secondly, before any emergency powers are exercised, the government should first exhaust its existing powers under prevailing laws. But I don't think this has been done."

Cayetano, a lawyer, pointed out that the President already has all the powers at her disposal to investigate and prosecute unscrupulous traders, dismantle food cartels, and shield consumers from overpricing and other forms of abuse.

"The rice crisis caught this administration flat-footed, not because it lacked emergency powers, but due to its failure to implement a long-term rice self-sufficiency program."

"Rising prices of pork, chicken, beef and vegetables are also hounding consumers. But we're not aware of any efforts being exerted by the trade department to stabilize prices, run after cartels, or at least educate the public about consumer rights."

She added that in the case of rising oil prices, "the oil deregulation law provides for the creation of an inter-agency task force led by the Department of Energy to investigate cases of predatory pricing by the oil companies. But nothing has been heard of this body since the law was passed�or whether it ever existed at all."

Finally, Cayetano cited the failure of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to curb abusive practices of power generators and distributors as one of the reasons why the country has one of the costliest electricity rates in Asia.

"If I were to point out one glaring failure of the ERC; that would be its failure to carry out the Supreme Court's decision in 2006 to have Meralco's financial books and power rate increases audited with the help of the Commission on Audit. The audit would have helped the public and lawmakers better understand the components of current electricity rates, and to determine which ones are justifiable and which are not.

News Latest News Feed