Senators already discussing Senate Bill 1413 also known as “We Heal As One Act” to give President Rodrigo Duterte special powers to address the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
According to the Senate version of the bill, it will give President Duterte some powers to address the problem like immediate treatment of patients from COVID-19, directing the operation of hospitals, preventing hoarding, and faster procuring of basic goods and properties that could be used as quarantine areas or temporary medical facilities.
The bill was discussed on Saturday and critics suspected that they’re pushing to give emergency powers to President Duterte, however, Senate President Vicente Sotto III denied it.
“By reason thereof, and in order to optimize the efforts of the President to carry out the tasks needed to implement the aforementioned policy, it is imperative to grant him authority subject to such limitations as hereinafter provided,” the bill read.
Here’s the list of the powers being planned to be given to President Rodrigo Duterte:
- Adopt and implement measures to prevent or minimize further transmission of the spread of COVID-19;
- Expedite the medical testing and observation of PUIs and PUMs and the immediate treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19;
- Ensure that all Local Government Units (LGUs) are acting in line with the rules, regulations by the national government’s rules and regulations of enhanced community quarantine;
- Allowing the President to direct operations of privately-owned hospitals or hotels if needed to address the COVID-19 issue and allowing the government to take over the said establishments refuse to comply.
- Continue to adopt measures against hoarding, profiteering of food, medical supply, clothing, medicines, and other necessities.
- Giving the government the most speedy way to procure goods such as protective equipment, food, medicines, alcohols, sanitizers, cleaning materials, testing kits, and other supplies or equipment as may be determined by Department of Health (DOH);
- Faster procurement of real property that could be used as temporary medical facilities;
- Faster procurement to establish or construction of temporary medical facilities;
- Ensure the availability of credit to the productive sectors of the economy especially to the countryside through measures such as but not limited, to lowering effective lending rates of interest and reserve requirements of lending institutions;
- Liberalize the grant of incentives for the manufacture or importation of critical or needed equipment or supplies to address the outbreak in the country;
- Require business to prioritize and accept contracts, subject to fair and reasonable terms, for materials and services necessary to address COVID-19;
- Regulate the limit the operation of all sectors of transportation through land, sea or air, whether private or public;
- Regulate the traffic on all roads, streets, and bridges in the country and removal of illegal constructions in public places.
- Giving alternative working arrangements to all employees and workers affected by COVID-19.
- Power to regulate the distribution and use of power, fuel, energy, and water, and ensure that there’s enough supply for the people.
- Cancellation of appropriate programs, projects or activities of agencies of the executive department, including government-owned corporations to utilize savings.
- Unutilized and unreleased balances in the special purpose fund and money from collections or receipts to be used for the purpose of the state of emergency
- Reallocate any appropriation in the 2020 budget for rehabilitation, social amelioration, and recovery if it may deem necessary to address the COVID-19 emergency.
- Move the deadlines of payment of taxes and fees.
- Undertake such other measures as may be reasonable and necessary to enable the President to carry out the declared national policy subject to the Bill of Rights and other constitutional guarantees.
The bill also required the creation of an oversight committee where the President should submit a weekly report of all the acts of the chief executive using the special powers given to him.
The act should only last for two months or longer if the outbreak still persists.