A PHILIPPINE senator urged President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Monday not to overuse the power to certify bills as urgent and reserve the exercise for times of emergency or calamity.

“Even if I question it on the floor and they (other senators) defer it to the President, that’s the presidential power given by the Constitution, but there are requirements and (they) should not be abused,” said Senator Aquilino Martin “Koko” D. Pimentel III at the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the budget of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) and its attached agencies.

The Senate panel approved the PCO’s P1.921-billion budget to fund its anti-fake news campaigns.

Mr. Pimentel’s remarks followed Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) Secretary Mark Leandro L. Mendoza’s informing senators that there are still 14 priority bills pending approval in Congress, with four of them being certified as urgent, or awaiting certification.

Mr. Mendoza stated the Public-Private Partnership Act, Internet Transactions Act, and a bill reorganizing the Philippine National Police as priority measures with presidential certification.

He added that the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) will meet on Sept. 20 to discuss the progress of these measures, or to make recommendations on more priority bills.

Mr. Pimentel said senators are being very careful to refine these priority measures before approval.

“We should not overuse or abuse this concept of presidential certification as its value may diminish over time,” Mr. Pimentel said.

The President had certified both bills creating the Maharlika Investment Fund, which opposition lawmakers had challenged before the Supreme Court.

The High Court in February denied a plea of the Makabayan block to void the measure’s certification, saying there was no urgent need for its passage.

Under the Constitution, a president can only certify a bill as urgent if there is a public emergency or calamity that requires the immediate passage of a law. — John Victor D. Ordoñez