Gov’t agencies ordered to list hospitals, facilities for possible takeover

Aika Rey
Gov’t agencies ordered to list hospitals, facilities for possible takeover
DOH, DOT, DOTr, and OCD are tasked to create the inventory and present this to the President

MANILA, Philippines – Four government agencies are tasked to create a list of establishments that will possibly be covered for takeover of operations under the Bayanihan Law.

In a memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the Department of Health, Department of Transportation, Department of Tourism, and the Office of Civil Defense were asked to create the list now.

Section 4(8) under the recently signed Bayanihan law allowed the President Rodrigo Duterte to “direct the operations” of any privately-owned hospitals, medical facilities, passenger vessels, and other establishments that will be used to house health workers, or serve as quarantine areas, relief distribution locations, or temporary medical facilities.

The same section also allowed the President to direct the operations of public transportation to ferry medical and front line personnel.

“For the purposes of implementing the authority of the President…the DOH, the DOTr, the DOT, and the OCD, are directed to submit to the Office of the President an inventory of all available or potential assets, and proposed guidelines to exercise such power,” Medialdea said in the letter dated Saturday, March 28.

“Such guidelines must conform with the relevant limits enshrined in Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution,” he added.

Article XII Section 17 of the charter explains that temporary taking over or directing of operations of privately-owned business is possible during a national emergency, “when the public interest so requires.”

Under the Bayanihan law, if the government decides to direct the operations of a particular facility, it must provide for a compensation for damages or costs incurred “after the situation has stabilized or at the soonest time practicable.”

The President can only order takeover of operations as a last resort, if the owners “unjustifiably refuse” or signify that they are no longer capable to manage operations during the coronavirus outbreak.

Duterte signed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 that gives him 30 special powers to deal with the pandemic.

Those who refuse to cooperate with the government may be penalized by imprisonment of two months or a fine of P10,000 up to P1 million, at the discretion of the court.

As of Saturday afternoon, the Philippines has a total of 1,075 coronavirus cases, with 68 deaths. – 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.