MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang wants the law giving President Rodrigo Duterte special powers to respond to the coronavirus pandemic to be valid for another 3 months, or until September 2020.
“We prefer for a 90-day extension of the current powers granted to the President,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Saturday, May 30.
The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020, the law that gives Duterte 30 special powers, was signed by the Chief Executive on March 24 and is to be valid for 3 months or until June.
But the executive branch wants these powers to last for another 3 months or until September.
Among the powers Duterte possesses is to cancel appropriated programs or activities and use the savings from them to fund the fight against the coronavirus.
Another power is to use government funds to give emergency financial aid to low-income families and to give health workers a special risk allowance on top of their hazard pay.
Duterte was also given the authority to take over private medical facilities and public transportation. Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea has said the provision was merely to provide Duterte a “standby power.”
Will Duterte call for Congress special session? Roque could not confirm if Duterte plans to ask the legislative branch to hold a special session to pass measures needed to address the health crisis.
“Let’s see but if necessary, that’s not a problem. It’s a request from the President to hold special sessions,” said Roque.
The House and Senate will go on break starting June 6. Lawmakers cited the need for a special session if they are to quickly pass needed legislation like the ₱1.3-trillion coronavirus recovery plan (Philippine Economic Stimulus Act) and Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act. – Rappler.com
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