Special powers for Duterte good only for three months – Go
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go stressed on Tuesday that the Senate-approved version of the proposed bill authorizing President Duterte to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) shall be in full force and effect only for three months unless extended by Congress.
Voting 12-0, the senators on early Tuesday morning passed Senate Bill (SB) 1418), the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”, which will also place the whole country under a state of national emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Since the Senate version of the bill was adopted by the House of Representatives, Congress will soon transmit an enrolled bill for signing into law by President Duterte.
“In view of the continuing rise of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the serious threat to the health, safety, security, and lives of our countrymen, the long-term adverse effects on their means of livelihood, and the severe disruption of economic activities, a state of national emergency is hereby declared over the entire country,” the bill stated.
Go, chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee, earlier expressed his support for the immediate passage of SB 1418, the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” to address the COVID-19 situation in the country.
“Our country is confronted with an invisible enemy that is endangering not only our economy and our society but the very lives of the Filipino people. That enemy is COVID-19,” Go said in his co-sponsorship speech.
“The Executive and Legislative branches of the government must work together to strengthen our efforts in responding to the COVID-19 situation. We, as legislators, must provide the executive branch the authority and the resources to further enhance our government’s capabilities to better address this threat,” Go explained.
The bill, originally authored by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and Senator Pia Cayetano, aims to empower and give the government the flexibility to address the public health emergency. It also grants authority to President Rodrigo Duterte to do what is necessary in accordance with the law to fund measures addressing the COVID-19 outbreak and the economic effects it will have on the country.
“This measure also allows for needed realignments in the budget of concerned agencies so they can prioritize the provision of immediate healthcare needs, as well as food and cash assistance to affected Filipinos, particularly those belonging to vulnerable sectors,” Go said.
Go also emphasized that the Constitution and all other laws that protect the rights of the Filipinos would remain “in full force and effect.”