Antivirus funding bill splits House, Senate

By Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz
& Butch Fernandez

THE Home of Representatives has
already moved to grant President Duterte huge particular powers, together with
direct operations of personal companies, a transfer seen by critics as “extra
harmful” than the 2019 coronavirus pandemic.

The swift assent of the Home, in
distinction to the cautious stance of the Senate because it held its personal particular
session on Monday, might dim hopes for a extra unified ultimate model by the 2
chambers with a purpose to avert calling a bicameral convention panel to reconcile
their respective payments.

Senate leaders earlier indicated
they’d readily grant spending authority for the President to have leeway to
realign at the least P200 billion—to as excessive as, in some estimates, P650 billion—in
order to fulfill all pressing issues arising from the unfold of the Covid-19,
which compelled a Luzon-wide lockdown since March 17.

Earlier, each the Government and
Congress stated funding could be wanted as stimulus for the financial system, help for
affected enterprise sectors, and fast response to assist hundreds of thousands of
daily-wage earners by means of outright money grants and meals subsidies.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III talks throughout a break in a particular session to deal with a invoice that will authorize President Duterte to applicable a funds for measures addressing the brand new coronavirus scenario within the nation, March 23, 2020.

The Palace already licensed as
pressing Home Invoice 6616 or “An Act to declare the existence of a nationwide
emergency arising from the Covid-19 scenario, and a nationwide coverage in
connection therewith and authorizing the President of the Republic of the
Philippines for a restricted interval and topic to restrictions, to train
powers crucial and correct to hold out the declared nationwide coverage and for
different functions.”

It has been dubbed the “Bayanihan
Act of 2020.”

With this, the approval of the
invoice on second studying and third studying within the Home was anticipated inside

No rush to present further powers

Senators weren’t inclined to
readily grant Malacañang an choice to present President Duterte emergency powers
to take over privately owned utilities.

“That isn’t how it will likely be
authorized within the Senate model,” Senate President Vicente Sotto III stated
Monday, including: “Higher await the ultimate model.”

The Senate chief declined to
elaborate on the scope of additional powers seen to facilitate acquisition of
urgently wanted provides, saying solely that it includes “Presidential authority
to  handle the emergency disaster.”

On this handout picture supplied by the Senate Public Relations and Data Bureau, some senators and authorities officers sporting protecting masks place their palms on their chest through the nationwide anthem initially of a particular session on a invoice that will authorize President Duterte to applicable a funds for measures addressing the brand new coronavirus scenario within the nation on Monday in Manila. Congress is holding an emergency session to deliberate on a authorities request to declare a nationwide emergency and permit the President to swiftly punish native officers who defy orders and grant him a standby energy to take over personal firms amid the coronavirus disaster.

On Sunday, Sotto had flatly
said they made no dedication to grant emergency powers to the President when
Congress leaders met with Palace officers on the weekend to flesh out the
agenda for the particular session requested by the President. He stated they are going to
readily give spending authority, however not emergency powers.

Senator Imee Marcos replied with
a capital “No” when requested if the Senate will promptly grant the President’s
want for further powers.

For his half, Senate Minority
Chief Frank Drilon admitted that the minority bloc had but to agency up a ultimate
place on the difficulty.

“I’ve not seen how the invoice
will seem like,” stated Drilon, including he submitted amendments however had but to
know if these had been adopted. “I’ll await the committee report,” Drilon
stated however didn’t elaborate. Not one of the minority senators have been in a position to attend,
however Drilon insisted there was no boycott, only a coincidence.

Drilon was suggested by medical doctors to
keep away; Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan are on quarantine,
and Leila de Lima is beneath detention.

Finance committee chairman Sen.
Pia Cayetano had been requested to sponsor the invoice within the absence of Sen. Juan
Edgardo Angara, the methods and means panel chief. Angara is on quarantine.

Not less than 12 senators attended
Monday morning’s particular session on the Senate. In addition to Senate President Sotto,
senators in attendance have been: Senate President Professional Tempore Ralph Recto and
Senators Emmanuel Pacquiao, Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Christopher “Bong”
Go, Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla, Francis Tolentino, Sherwin Gatchalian, Grace Poe
and Cayetano.

Impact for two months

Underneath the Home invoice, the particular
powers will likely be in “impact just for two months or longer if the calamity will
persist, as could also be decided by the President.”

The invoice seeks to undertake a unified
nationwide coverage to handle the general public well being emergency scenario by minimizing
the additional unfold of Covid-19; mobilizing help within the provision of fundamental
requirements to affected people; offering well being care similar to medical
assessments and coverings; and endeavor a program for restoration and
rehabilitation, together with a social amelioration program and provision of security
nets to all affected sectors.

When the general public curiosity so
requires, the invoice grants the President the facility to direct the operation of
any privately owned hospitals and medical and well being amenities, resorts and
different comparable institutions to accommodate well being employees or function quarantine
areas or short-term medical amenities. Additionally, public transportation can be
directed to ferry well being employees to hospitals.

It additionally ensures that each one native
governments are performing in step with the principles and rules and directives
issued by the nationwide authorities.

The measure permits the President
to reprogram, reallocate and realign any appropriation within the 2020 nationwide
funds to fund measures to handle and reply to the Covid-19 emergency,
together with social amelioration for affected communities, in addition to restoration and
rehabilitation of affected areas.

Underneath the invoice, the Chief Government
may allocate money, funds and investments held by any government-owned or
-controlled company (GOCC) or any nationwide authorities company for no matter
function deemed crucial and fascinating to handle the Covid-19 disaster.

It stated authorities packages,
tasks and actions within the 2019 and 2020 budgets could be canceled to
generate financial savings and increase allocations for the Covid-19 response.

‘No abuse’

In the course of the Home Committee of the
Complete listening to, Government Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in the meantime, assured the
public that the particular powers granted to the President won’t be abused.

Medialdea stated the particular powers
“would final solely so long as Covid-19 disaster would final.”

He stated the invoice would equip the
President and the Government Department with the authorized authorities essential to
handle the Covid-19 disaster whereas assuring that the Structure stays in
place amid this emergency.

“We guarantee Congress and our
countrymen that this administration has no intent to abuse the powers we’re
asking of you right this moment,” Medialdea stated.

The chief secretary stated half
of the authorized authority requested from Congress is the flexibility to buy gear
for well being employees expeditiously with out being restricted by present
procurement legal guidelines.

He stated the President additionally sought
a particular energy to “freely reallocate” funds within the Basic Appropriations Act
and increase allocations to handle the coronavirus outbreak.

Medialdea, in the meantime, stated that
the availability, which grants the President the authority to direct operations of
personal institutions, is barely a “standby energy” that will not essentially be
exercised always.

“The facility to take over is
meant merely as a standby energy within the occasion the disaster reaches its worst,
when our most crucial establishments are nearing a complete shutdown and authorities
is left with no alternative however to take over these institutions,” he added.

Earlier than approving the invoice,
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, citing the World Well being Group (WHO), stated
if the federal government didn’t do something, round 35 million Filipinos would have
been contaminated by the Covid-19.

Of this quantity, Cayetano warned
that 700,000 would have died.


In accordance with Deputy Speaker for
Finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte, of the P275 billion obtainable funds for
Covid-19 response, P200 billion will likely be allotted for the emergency subsidy
program, whereas the remaining P75 billion will likely be used to fund well being and different

Villafuerte stated the federal government’s
emergency subsidy program will present reduction to some 18 million Filipino
households most affected by the coronavirus pandemic and for the therapy of
individuals contaminated with this deadly pathogen often called Covid-19.

“A serious casualty of this virus
is our resurgent financial system, because the pandemic threatens to cease lifeless on its tracks
the expansion momentum that our nation has been experiencing,” stated Villafuerte
in his sponsorship speech throughout Monday’s particular session of the Home of

“However apart from the contaminated
individuals themselves and greater than the home financial system, the largest casualty
from the pandemic are, collectively, the poor and low-income Filipinos who’ve
misplaced their jobs or sources of livelihood on account of the lockdown in Metro
Manila and the remainder of Luzon, in addition to in different communities elsewhere the place
native authorities items have likewise restricted private motion within the hope
of containing Covid-19,” he stated.

Villafuerte stated the lockdowns in
Luzon and elsewhere have introduced the nationwide and native economies virtually to a
standstill, thereby dislocating an estimated 18 million Filipino households who
stay by the no-work, no-pay system.


Furthermore, the invoice shall
authorize the President to obtain, in essentially the most expeditious method, important
items and providers similar to medical provides, rented venues for quarantine
facilities, short-term medical amenities, and different providers wanted by the general public
health-care system through the well being emergency as exceptions to the Procurement

The medical testing and
commentary of sufferers beneath investigation and individuals beneath monitoring shall
be expedited, in addition to the fast therapy of sufferers affected by

The invoice additionally stated the President
can undertake measures to guard the folks from hoarding, profiteering, injurious
speculations, manipulation of costs, product deceptions, and cartels,
monopolies and different unscrupulous enterprise practices.

The invoice additionally extends credit score to
productive sectors of the financial system; liberalizes the grant of incentives for the
manufacture and importation of crucial items and gear; requires
companies to prioritize and settle for contracts for items and providers crucial
to take care of the well being emergency; and authorizes working various working
preparations for workers within the government department and within the personal sector.

By way of regulatory powers,
the President can regulate the operation of private and non-private transportation;
site visitors on all roads and thoroughfares; the usage of the nation’s power provide.

Underneath the penalty provision of
the proposed measure, any one that violates the principles, rules and
directives of the nationwide authorities will likely be imposed the punishment of two
months in jail and a nice within the quantity of P10,000 to P1 million.

The invoice additionally creates a
congressional oversight committee and mandates the President to submit a
month-to-month report back to Congress of all acts carried out throughout this emergency.

Picture Credit: Bernard Testa, Louie Sauro Millang/ Senate PRIB through AP, Henzberg Austria/ Senate PRIB through AP

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