House committee of the whole approves measure granting Duterte “necessary powers” to address COVID-19 emergency

(Eagle News)–The House of Representatives committee of the whole has approved a bill giving President Rodrigo Duterte the “necessary powers” to address the coronavirus disease 2019 situation.

The  measure approved via viva voce is expected to be tackled in the plenary.

If passed into law, the measure would give the executive the power to  “direct the operation of privately-owned hospitals and medical and health facilities, hotels, and other similar establishments to house health workers, serve as quarantine areas, quarantine centers, medical relief and aid distribution locations, or other temporary medical facilities.”

It also allows Duterte to “reprogram, reallocate, and realign any appropriation” in the 2020 national budget “for whatever purpose the President may deem necessary” to fight the spread of COVID-19, and “cancel appropriated programs, projects and activities to generate savings.”

Camarines Rep. LRay Villafuerte said this was to last for two months or more, depending on how the COVID-19 situation goes.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte  asked Congress to give him the “necessary” powers that are restricted and for a limited period to address the national emergency.

Duterte had asked Congress to call a special session for the passage of a supplemental budget against COVID-19.

Senate President Tito Sotto said the amount could reach P200 billion for 16.5 million affected families.