Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Liza Maza today said Malacanang is gearing up into using the food crisis as an excuse to give President Arroyo more space for political maneuvers amid brewing unrest by giving her emergency powers.
“No special or emergency powers are needed by President Arroyo to properly address the food crisis. As a matter of fact, save for the provision on emergency powers, the National Food and Energy Council which is supposedly tasked to address this crisis merely duplicates the tasks that the council members are already mandated to perform,” said Maza.
The council will be headed by the President herself and the NEDA Secretary as vice chair. Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, Energy, and the heads of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, National Security Council, National Power Corp., and National Food Authority will be sitting as members.
Maza expressed doubts that the council’s mandate to recommend the use of emergency powers is meant to counter whatever public unrest may result from the skyrocketing prices of oil, rice and other commodities, the ZTE Senate hearing which is set to resume with the possible testimony coming from former Speaker Jose De Venecia and the resumption of Jun Lozada’s school tours.
“Again, we reiterate that President Arroyo can very well address the soaring prices of oil, rice and basic commodities by suspending if not removing the 12% VAT on oil, electricity and food. The creation of this council is but a sinister attempt at giving the President a new ammunition– that of emergency powers– which she can very well use against her critics.”
Maza warned against using emergency powers and political repression against a people already battered with poverty. “This will add fuel to the fire of unrest, at great political cost to the Arroyo regime.”#