The Senate granted President Rodrigo Duterte for more emergency power to address the ongoing crisis brought by COVID-19 in the Philippines.
The granted additional power for the President will remain in effect for at least three months or up to the time that the state of calamity in the entire country is lifted.
After voting 12-0, the bill declaring additional emergency power to the President will enable him to do the following:
1.The authority to reshuffle savings within the executive department in the 2020 budget into addressing the crisis brought about by the viral disease, including assistance to the poor who have been adversely affected by the lockdown in Luzon.
2. To direct the stoppage of programs, projects or activities under the executive department, including government corporations, and use the savings from these to fund the government’s response to COVID-19.
3. To allocate cash, funds, investments, unused or unreleased subsidies in government corporations or any national government agency to address the COVID-19 emergency.
“The Health Department is prioritized for funding sourced from the halting of certain government programs. It will receive funding for its hospitals, the prevention and control of other infectious diseases, emergency preparedness and response, and a boost in its quick response fund,” the Senate proposed.
Moreover, the senate would like unutilized or unreleased special purpose funds to be rechanneled to be used in the government’s fight against COVID-19.
“Funds from these sources will be used to distribute P5,000 to P8,000 a month to some 18 million families, which will amount to roughly P200 billion in two months,” Sentaor Pia Cayetano said.
“The cost is clearly significant but we have the cash available. What we do not have is the flexibility to use the available cash to beat this virus. This bill that I sponsor today will precisely do that,” the senator added.
However, there are provisions that were raised by the senate over Malacañang’s request for the power to take private establishments.
“The request for power to take over private establishments is a standby power which we do not consider necessary to be exercised at all times,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said.
At present, 462 people were affected with COVID-19 in the Philippines. Thirty-three of the affected patients died due to the virus called SARS CoV-2. Among the infected, 18 patients recovered.