President Rodrigo Duterte does not need additional powers to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in the country, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Monday.
"The proposed grant of additional powers to the executive branch is clearly unnecessary to address the most pressing needs of health workers, COVID-19 patients, and poor Filipinos alike in this critical period," Hontiveros said in a statement.
"Our existing laws already grant government the powers and other necessary tools needed to mount an effective response against COVID-19," she added.
Hontiveros said Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act already provides "comprehensive mechanism" during health emergencies.
She also cited RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act which "authorizes government agencies to engage in speedier, alternative methods of procurement of resources during calamities."
The Government Procurement Policy Board has issued Resolution 03-2020 to approve the efficient procurement procedures amid the COVID-19 situation, Hontiveros further said.
The senator said she instead bats for the passage of a supplemental budget to cushion the economic impact of contagion in the country.
On Sunday, a copy of a still-unnumbered bill that was submitted by Malacañang to Congress surfaced.
The draft legislative measure indicated that "it is imperative" to grant the President "emergency powers" to carry out the necessary tasks needed in response to the COVID-19 threats.
Among these powers was the authority to "temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest to be used in addressing the needs of the public during the COVID-19 emergency as determined by the President."
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, on the other hand, underscored that it was just a draft and that the Upper House will not allow that to happen.
He also clarified that President Rodrigo Duterte was not asking for emergency powers and that the main purpose of the special session was to distribute assistance to the affected Filipino families.
The Congress will hold a special session on Monday to pass a bill which would authorize Duterte to realign available funds for COVID-19 response.—AOL, GMA News