By EDDIE OSIFELO
PARLIAMENT has passed a resolution yesterday to extend the State of Public Emergency (SOPE) for another four months.
This was after two thirds of 49 members of Parliament gave their support to the resolution when put to vote.
All members of the Opposition and Independent did not take part during the vote except MP for Small Malaita Rick Hou.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare who tabled the motion, said the extension of the SOPE is more important than it ever was.
He said the SOPE is made purposely to protect our people and country and not made on the pretext to trample on fundamental rights.
“The government respects your rights and will continue to do so and off course subject to public interests,” he said.
Sogavare said the Public Health Emergency Bill is before Parliament.
Further to that, he confirms the delta variant is circulating around the people.
He said the delta variant is here to stay and “we must adjust and learn to live it.”
However, Opposition Leader, Mathew Wale said prior SOPE approved in the house was unnecessary.
He supported it based on uninformed decisions.
Wale said existing law makes adequate provisions for an effective Covid 19 response both before and during community transmissions.
He said all regulations to date issued under Emergency Powers Act could have been issued under existing laws with no gaps.
“The argument made for State of Public Emergency prior covid 19 was that we don’t have provisions in our laws to cater for preemptive actions to be taken in the fight to protect our country and population.
“But the law only provides for diseases when it was already in the country and disease now in the country,” he said.
However, Wale said the argument is not right because the Environmental Health Act and old Quarantine Act provide adequately for preemptive actions to be taken against diseases like covid 19.
Furthermore, Former Prime Minister Rick Hou said capability to enforce covid 19 protocols are inadequate based on the practicality on the ground.
He said SOPE also give avenues for officials to abuse their powers as well.
He said SOPE also contributed to businesses struggling to make revenue because of the strict protocols.
Parliament has adjourned to Thursday 14th April 2022.