Speech by João Oliveira in Assembly of the Republic

On the second renewal of the Declaration of the State of Emergency

On the second renewal of the Declaration of the State of Emergency

Reality has confirmed that the reasons that led the PCP to distance itself from the declaration of the state of emergency were just and correct.

At the time when we are discussing its second renewal, three conclusions are clear. The first is that this decision has proved to be unnecessary and disproportionate in the fight for public health against the epidemic. The second, that it is a decision that continues to serve as an excuse to impose on the workers the most diverse abuses, arbitrariness and violations of their rights, at the same time that it provides cover to the accumulation of profits of economic groups. The third is that there is a feeling of trivialisation of the state of emergency that is incompatible with the seriousness of a decision wherein the suspension or restriction of citizens' rights, freedoms and guarantees is at stake.

The confirmation of this reality and the path that has been followed since the state of emergency was decreed justify PCP’s vote against its renewal.

The path seen in recent weeks with the enacting of public health measures, the widespread compliance by the Portuguese and the positive results achieved today confirm that the declaration of a state of emergency was unnecessary and disproportionate.

The measures of containment are necessary, the state of emergency to impose them is not.

The fight against the epidemic does not depend on the state of emergency. The most relevant decisions that were correctly taken to deal with the epidemic were already framed by law and were, moreover, decided before or outside the decrees of the state of emergency.

The Portuguese did not wait for the state of emergency to comply with public health measures and complied them even before they were enacted. The reality of the last few weeks disappointed the securitary intentions of those who dreamed that it was necessary to forcefully enforce rules that the Portuguese voluntarily and broadly observed.

The mobilisation and effort required of professionals from the security forces and services and of civil protection went far beyond what was necessary, had negative consequences on their exposure to an epidemic risk and will have future consequences on the strain of these professionals.

The end of the state of emergency does not mean the end of sanitary containment measures or the inspection of their compliance. It means that none of this is decided unnecessarily or disproportionately in view of the reality and the development of the epidemiological situation.

At the same time, the state of emergency continues to be an excuse for an attack against workers' rights, with the imposition of all kinds of abuses and arbitrariness, and giving cover to the path of worsening exploitation and impoverishment of the workers and the accumulation of economic profits, including the appropriation of public resources.

Government may well make declarations of intent saying that it refuses to return to the “austerity” policy, but it is there, in the life of the workers imposed by employers. Government statements are of no use if, in practice, the state of emergency continues to be the excuse to wipe out jobs and workers' rights, to dismiss unfairly, to impose forced vacations, to cut wages or to impose deregulation of working hours with bank hours and other existing devices in labour legislation.

Government may well make declarations of intent on the mobilisation of national resources to face the economic consequences of the combat against the epidemic and to ensure the needs of the people and the country. These statements are of no use if the economic groups in the distribution chain continue to ruin producers by imposing squeezing prices; if economic groups in the energy and fuel sector continue to fix prices without any control or consideration of the impact this has on the country's life and on the national economy; if banks continue to serve economic groups as henchmen for MSMEs and families, refusing access to credit or imposing ruinous conditions; or even if economic groups can continue to decide to distribute dividends to shareholders, decisions that are particularly scandalous when it comes to economic groups whose profits are made in Portugal but whose taxes are paid in the Netherlands, adding to the state budget of countries whose governments belittle the difficulties of the Portuguese people.

The renewal of the state of emergency will mean maintaining the excuse of all these negative developments for workers and for the country's economic and social situation.

Mr. Speaker,
Mr. Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen MP’s,

The declaration of a state of emergency cannot be trivialised because the suspension or restriction of citizens' rights, freedoms and guarantees is at stake.

We declared in the first discussion and insisted that the declaration of a state of emergency should not be decided on the basis of abstract or theoretical considerations, it requires the well-founded evaluation of the existence of an exceptional framework that can justify such a decision and the measures that clearly show that they can only be implemented following this declaration.

Its successive renewal, regardless of the conditions and results of its previous execution, sets in the democratically dangerous idea of the irrelevance of the suspension or restriction of rights, freedoms and guarantees.

This becomes even more worrying when it becomes clear, from the national reality, that it is not in a state of emergency that the answer to fight the epidemic is found, much less the solution to national problems.

It is for all these reasons that the PCP will vote against the renewal of the state of emergency.

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