"Congress breaks on June 5. What does this mean?"
When Congress adjourns this Friday, June 5, two issues, one not quite as important as the other, will be adversely affected.
The issue of national importance is Republic Act 11649, otherwise known as Bayanihan We Heal As One Act. Through this law, Congress granted President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency powers are set to lapse on Friday, upon Congress’ adjournment.
Section 23 (2), Article VI of the 1987 Constitution is clear and unambiguous. Emergency powers will cease upon adjournment of Congress unless sooner withdrawn by congressional resolution. No ifs and buts about it.
There is a move by the Senate to extend the effectivity of the law, but that would be unconstitutional. Any law must not prevail over the Constitution.
The Bayanihan Law technically ends on June 25, but of course the Constitution – which says that emergency powers should cease upon adjournment – is superior to it.
The President could call a special session beyond June 5, 2020 – or from June 6 to June 24. June 25 is the end of the three-month period contemplated in the Bayanihan law.
The other, less important issue is the renewal of the franchise of Lopez-owned broadcast network ABS-CBN. Its 25-year franchise expired last May 4.
When Congress adjourns on June 5 as scheduled, the bills filed for its franchise renewal will have to wait for the new session.
There is no longer any time to act on the franchise renewal.
Personally, I don’t think ABS-CBN’s franchise should be renewed until it is able to respond to all the charges against it.
Metro Manila is now on General Community Quarantine.
The problems encountered by the government in implementing GCQ are many, mainly having to do with the mobility of people who now have to go out of their houses to work. Public transportation is still limited.
Somebody asked me if I thought Metro Manila was ready for an easing of restrictions.
I think the Department of Health must first adequately address questions about the surge in numbers – fresh cases and backlog included. Note that the DOH has also ramped up its testing capability. This will cause higher numbers.
It is all so confusing.
At the very least we should be thankful for the low number of fatalities, denoting that the curve may in fact be flattening.
In sum, we are still very far from the new normal.
I suspect that the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology is understating the number of COVID-19 cases among its prisoners. I say this because it is impossible to adopt social distancing measures in jail. All of them live in sub-human conditions.