The unfolding output of the one-day special session in the House of Representatives is the grant of more emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to combat COVID-19 as he requested in the Malacañang-crafted H.B. No. 6616, even as the validity of the virtual session and electronic voting of the House of Representatives is in legal limbo as no prior amendment was properly effected under the existing Rules of the House.
Authorizing the President with extraordinary powers was in lieu of a supplemental budget or an economic stimulus package to ameliorate affected citizens and displaced workers and bail out distressed businesses, particularly micro and small enterprises.
The grant of extraordinary budgetary powers to the President to restructure or re-engineer the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) surrenders the Congress’ constitutional power of the purse to the Executive even as it allows the President to transfer funds in violation of Section 25 of Article VI of the Constitution which unequivocally prohibits the enactment of a law authorizing a transfer of funds.
Under House Bill No. 6616, the President is authorized to cause the (a) “cancellation of appropriated programs, projects or activities” to “generate (forced) savings”, and (b) “reprogram, reallocate, and realign any allocations in the FY 2020 GAA for whatever purpose the President may deem necessary and desirable to fund measures to address and respond to the COVID-19 emergency.”
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