LOOK: Senate bill seeks to grant Duterte ‘special powers’ to deal with pandemic

Aika Rey
LOOK: Senate bill seeks to grant Duterte ‘special powers’ to deal with pandemic

Rappler.com

The Senate's 'We Heal as One Act' allows 'directing private hospital operations' to address the outbreak when the need arises. There's no mention of emergency powers in the bill.

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto and Senator Pia Cayetano filed Senate Bill 1413, which seeks to give President Rodrigo Duterte 19 special powers to deal with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

Under the bill, the senators are not seeking for emergency powers for the President, different from the initial Malacañang draft of the bill. Instead, what they seek is “to grant him (Duterte) authority subject to such limitations.”

The Senate version of the bill likewise allowed “directing of operations any private hospitals and health facilities” to deal with the pandemic “when the interest of the public requires”, granted that the management is still under the owners of the hospitals.

Here are the special powers sought by the senators:

  • Adopt and implement measures to prevent or minimize the spread of the coronavirus
  • Expedite testing and observation of persons under investigation and persons under monitoring
  • Ensure local government units (LGUs) follow protocols listed by the national government
  • Adopt measures to prevent hoarding, profiteering, price manipulation, and other practices that would affect the supply of food and other goods
  • Undertake “in the most expeditious manner” procurement of goods such a personal protective equipment, testing kits, and other medical supplies; utilities, telecommunications, and other services needed to operate quarantine centers, leasing of property to house workers; establishment of medical facilities
  • Expedite procurement
  • Lower lending rates of interest and reserve requirements of lending institutions
  • Liberalize grants for incentives of manufacture or importation of supplies needed to address the coronavirus outbreak
  • Require businesses to accept and prioritize contracts for services needed to address the outbreak
  • Regulate and limit the operation of transportation in both public and private road, rail, aviation, and maritime sectors
  • Regulate traffic of all roads, streets, bridges; prohibit putting up of road obstacles
  • Continue authorizing alternative work arrangements for government employees in executive branch
  • Conserve and regulate the distribution of power, fuel, energy, water
  • Cancelation of appropriated programs, projects or activities in the executive in the 2019 and 2020 budgets and utilize the savings generated from the cancelation
  • Unutilized and unreleased balances in the special purpose fund and money from collections or receipts to be used for the purpose of the state of emergency
  • Reprogram, reallocate, and realign any appropriation in the 2020 budget for social ameloriation, recovery, and rehabilitation 
  • Move deadlines for filing of taxes, and other charges required by law
  • “Undertake such other measures as may be reasonable and necessary” to address the outbreak, subject to the bill of rights and other constitutional guarantees

See the Senate Bill 1413 below:

– Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.