MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law that allows him special powers to step up the government’s fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In a text message sent to reporters early Wednesday morning, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go confirmed that Duterte inked the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”.
Malacañang has yet to issue an official statement and release a copy of the newly-signed law.
The new law gives Duterte special powers for a limited time to help his administration address the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
The signing of the law came amid the implementation of an enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon until April 12 to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Following the signing of the law, Duterte now has the authority to adopt and implement measures to prevent the further transmission of Covid-19.
The President is also authorized to expedite the medical testing for Covid-19 and the immediate treatment of people who contracted the virus.
He likewise has the power to make sure that all local government units are following the guidelines on the implementation of community quarantine set by the national government.
The law also allows the realignment of the government’s national budget amid the health crisis in the country.
It also grants Duterte the authority to temporarily direct the operations of privately-owned hospitals, medical and health facilities, and other establishments to house health workers.
It permits the President to “take over the operations of private enterprises that unjustifiably refuse or signify that they are no longer capable of operating their enterprises” due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
He can also adopt measures aimed at protecting people from hoarding or profiteering.
Duterte is also required to submit a weekly report to Congress about his administration’s response to Covid-19.
The law is effective only for two months but can be enforced “longer, if the calamity will persist, as may be determined by the President, without prejudice to the powers that the President may continue to exercise under the Constitution or other laws.”
The new law may also be withdrawn earlier through a Congress resolution or a presidential proclamation.
Addressing the nation on Tuesday night, Duterte thanked Congress for granting him the special powers to combat Covid-19.
“Finally, the executive department can move, decide, and act freely for the best interest of the Filipino people during this health crisis,” he said.
There were a total of 552 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines as of Tuesday afternoon. (ia/PNA)