Pres. Duterte Used All Special Powers To Address COVID-19

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President Rodrigo Duterte was able to exhaust all the emergency powers granted to him by Congress to allow his administration to stop the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

With barely a month before the expiration of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, Duterte did his best to respond to the crisis brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser aired on state-run PTV-4.

“Sa tingin ko po, kahit kailan pa yung date ng expiration ng Bayanihan Act, nagamit naman po ang lahat ng special powers na binigay sa ating Presidente (I think, the President was able to use all his special powers granted to him even before the date of expiration of Bayanihan Act ),” Roque said.

RA 11469, inked on March 24, gives Duterte special powers for a limited time to help his administration combat Covid-19.

The law only takes effect for three months, unless extended by Congress.

To address the health crisis, Duterte wielded his emergency power to realign the government’s national budget, Roque said.

“We have exercised all the powers given to the President. Una po diyan (One of the emergency powers used by Duterte is) the power to realign the budget. Na-realign na po natin iyan (We were able to realign the budget),” he said.

Malacañang announced on Saturday that some PHP150 billion from the budget items of the executive branch would be realigned to boost the funding for Covid-19 response.

This developed after Duterte earlier directed Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado to look for additional funds that can be used to stop the further transmission of Covid-19.

Roque said Duterte also used his special power to expedite the procurement of sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies for front-liners battling Covid-19.

“Pagdating po sa procurement, meron na po tayong kumbaga, stockpile ng PPE at na-order na rin po yung mga ibang kailangan natin kasama na po ang mga ventilator (When it comes to procurement, we now have the stockpile of PPE and we are able to purchase all the medical equipment we need, including ventilators),” he said.

Under RA 11469, Duterte is allowed to provide cash aid worth PHP5,000 to PHP8,000 to 18 million poor families for April and May, realign the national budget to fund Covid-19 response measures, and procure PPE sets and other supplies for front-line health workers.

Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Monday stressed the need to extend until September the granting of emergency powers to Duterte, as provided under RA 11469.

Rodriguez said the end of Covid-19 pandemic is “not yet in sight” two months after the effectivity of RA 11469.

Rodriguez is expected to file Tuesday a bill extending Duterte’s emergency powers.

He added that if Congress fails to pass the bill before Saturday, Duterte will have to ask lawmakers to hold a special session during recess, in case the President wants his special powers extended.

As of Monday, the Philippines has recorded 14,319 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 873 deaths and 3,323 recoveries. (PNA)

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