“We live in very unusual times,” says Executive Secretary Medialdea as he explains needs for emergency powers
(Eagle News) – The House of Representatives convened for the first time online in a special session to address urgent matters, including the grant of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte, to address the country’s needs amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Lower House held the special session on Monday morning, March 23, 2020, with around 20 lawmakers present at the floor, and other legislators connected online.
First on the floor is the passage of the measure for the emergency powers for President Duterte amid the COVID-19 crisis, entitled “Bayanihan, We Heal as One Act.”
“We live in very unusual times,” said Philippine Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on the House floor explaining to lawmakers the need for the emergency powers.
He called the crisis “unprecedented”.
“Never before have we asked Luzon to stay home within 24 hours,” Medialdea said, adding that the exemptions for going out are only if representatives of each household will go out to buy food, medicine and other necessities.
“This is a step we were reluctant to take,” he said, but he noted that this is needed in these “highly unusual times.”
“Now, we come before you, believing that in this time of crisis, the rule of law shall prevail,” he said.
Medialdea said that the emergency powers that Malacanang is asking include the “stand-by power” for the government to take over private establishments
giving basic public services.
He said that this stand-by power will just be used by the government as the need arises, and not all the time, since the said private establishments have been cooperating with the government in this time of emergency.
“This virus is so unpredictable,” he said, explaining that President Duterte will just use this “stand-by power in the event that the crisis reaches its worst.”
This is when the government is left with no other choice but to take over private establishments distributing basic utilities to the public to make sure that the citizens’ needs are met, Medialdea stressed.
The other emergency powers asked by the President include the power to purchase needed equipment to address the coronavirus crisis such as test kits and protective personal equipment without going through the usual bidding process, and the power to deal with “wayward local officials” preventing the entry of cargo in their areas of jurisdiction despite the government’s advice to allow the unhampered entry of these.
(Editor’s note: This is a developing story. Refresh for updates)
(Eagle News Service)