MANILA – With the welfare of the people in mind, Congress is about to grant emergency power to President Duterte to be able for him to better address the COVID-19 crisis engulfing the country.
During his speech before the start of the special session on Monday, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said the President has nothing in mind but the welfare of the Filipino people in the fight against the killer coronavirus that has already claimed at least 13,000 lives worldwide.
Of this writing, the Department of Health reported 82 new cases locally, bringing the national total to 462.
ES Medialdea appeared in Congress on Monday and delivered a speech to both houses in support of House Bill 6616, which is seeking to grant President Duterte emergency powers.
Medialdea was accompanied by some officials of the Executive Department.
As a show of support to HB 6616, Secretary Wendel Avisado of the Department of Budget and Management, Secretary Eduardo Ano of DILG and Undersecretary Jacinto Paras of the Presidential Legislative Office also attended the special session.
In effect, HB 6616 was already approved by the House Committee of the Whole on Monday during the special session, termed as a concerted effort by lawmakers amid the rapid spike of COVID-19 cases in the country.
It was gathered that if approved by both chambers of Congress, it would authorize the Chief Executive “for a limited period and subject to restrictions” powers that would help him to best address the scourge of the killer disease.
The emergency powers include the possible realignment of funding in the 2020 budget and the allocation of funds and investments of government agencies for the country’s COVID-19 response.
It was gathered that the bill will likewise give the executive the power to purchase essential medical supplies such as personal protective equipment, venues that may be used as quarantine centers, as well as other goods and services for COVID-19-affected communities.
Under the proposed law, Duterte will also be able to implement other preventive measures to curb the spread of the disease— including fast-tracking of testing for persons under investigation and monitoring (PUIs and PUMs), regulation of public and private transport, regulation of traffic on all roads, and ensuring compliance of local government units for the community quarantine standards.
The bill is now being tackled in the House plenary.
Malacañang is asking Congress to declare a national emergency and grant President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers, including the power to take over public utilities, hospitals and businesses.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III confirmed Sunday to CNN Philippines that he has received a draft bill from Malacañang asking for the declaration and special powers for Duterte.
“Proposal ng executive department ‘yun na was not fully discussed,” Sotto said.
SP Sotto also added that senators will file their own versions of the measure and that the draft bill from Malacañang was only sent to them for their comments.
Sotto, however, is not keen on calling the additional powers which the Malacañang bill seeks to grant as “emergency powers,” even saying that a provision which allows “in extreme emergencies to take over private hospitals and businesses” is “questionable.”
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo also said Malacañang is not asking for emergency powers, but for “powers necessary to carry our urgent measures to implement the national emergency.” (ia/sovereignph.com)