MANILA – A week after the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (RA 11469) was signed into law, President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday submitted his first report on government measures being undertaken to respond to the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) health crisis.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made this confirmation after Duterte delivered a public address late Monday night summarizing government’s efforts and plans to fight Covid-19, particularly in providing emergency assistance to affected sectors and the procurement of more medical supplies, devices, and personal protective equipment.
“Opo, na-submit na po (Yes, he has already submitted it),” said Nograles, spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), in a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, in a separate statement, also confirmed that Duterte indeed submitted his report to Congress.
The law authorizes the executive to realign the national budget and tap additional funds to address the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Nograles said the executive branch has yet to release a list of budget breakdown.
“Hinihingi ko pa po ‘yung final copy (We are still requesting for a final copy). As soon as I get it, I will report immediately,” he said.
In his public address, Duterte assured that the two powers in the law which he reserved for himself will be exercised “only when absolutely necessary.”
These are the power to direct the operation of private establishments and the power to require businesses to prioritize contracts for materials and services necessary for the crisis.
Under the law, the executive department must submit a weekly report to Congress, every Monday, detailing how he used his special powers to address Covid-19.
The report must include the amount and corresponding utilization of funds used, augmented, reprogrammed, reallocated, and realigned.
Meanwhile, Congress must establish a joint congressional oversight committee composed of four members of each house to be appointed by the Senate President and House Speaker.
The committee will determine whether such acts, orders, rules, and regulations are within the restrictions provided.
Duterte signed the law on March 24. The law will be in full force and effect for three months unless extended by Congress.
He also placed the entire of Luzon under enhanced community quarantine from March 17 to April 12 requiring all individuals to stay indoors and limit their movement to accessing basic goods and necessities. (PNA)