Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that they’re not going to allow President Rodrigo Duterte to control privately-owned utility companies amid the rumors that the chief executive is asking emergency powers to Congress to address the COVID-19 outbreak.
Sotto, in a statement, denied that the President is asking emergency powers, but confirmed that there’s a provision that giving Duterte powers to control the privately-owned businesses like utility companies and hotels.
“Not true. Read the title. Nothing there says emergency powers,” Sotto said
“Perhaps one controversial provision in the bill [is] about the takeover of businesses but that won’t fly in the Senate. The main proposal of the bill is to distribute cash to the 16.5 million families badly needing help,” he added.
He also revealed that their meeting on Saturday already decided that they’re not going to pass any measure giving the President emergency powers.
“That was precisely my point in the meeting yesterday that this is not an emergency powers bill. We agreed that it is not,” he said.
According to the still-unnumbered Senate bill which President Duterte certified as urgent, the President is granted authority to “exercise powers necessary and proper” to implement a unified national policy to combat COVID-19 “for a limited period and subject to restrictions.”
It includes the temporary control of the President to some privately-owned companies.
The President could also order speedy procurement of goods, medicines, medical supplies, and establishments that could be used as temporary medical facilities.
House Committee on Ways and Means chair Joey Salceda said that they’re going to support granting the President emergency powers because it’s “necessary”.
“It’s absolutely necessary at this point. That’s why I asked Congressional leaders to call for a virtual session of Congress last week. The country needs it,” Salceda said.
“I will especially support provisions to exempt the purchase of necessary medical supplies and other essential goods from the procurement law, as well as support for our frontliners. Subsistence allowances will also be given to poor families affected by the enhanced quarantine through these powers. I already proposed that a few days ago, so I am thankful that the government is adopting the approach,” he added.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that the Congress is set to debate today about the proposal.