March 25, 2020

Bayanihan to Heal as One Act Grants Duterte Additional Powers to Address COVID-19 Crisis

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  • Bayanihan to Heal as One Act Grants Duterte Additional Powers to Address COVID-19 Crisis
  • President Rodrigo Duterte officially signed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020, also known as Republic Act No. 11469, on March 25, 2020. Through the act, President Duterte is given the authority to exercise emergency powers, however, limited and subject to restrictions for the next three months unless extended by the Congress.

    IMAGE / Sen. Bong Go

    Under Section 2 of the act, the country is declared under the state of national emergency caused by the rise of the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. The gradual increase of  cases has been threatening the lives and well-being of the Filipinos resulting in the strict implementation of:

    • Enhanced community quarantine
    • Declaration of the country under a state of calamity
    • Announcement of Code Red Sublevel 2 under the state of public health emergency

    Also read: Duterte Declares Public Health Emergency Due to Increased COVID-19 Cases in PH

    Moreover, listed under Section 4 are the temporary emergency measures that the President has the power to adopt in response to the crisis brought by the pandemic.

    Health sector and medical frontliners

    • Adopt and implement measures to prevent and suppress the further transmission and spread of COVID-19 through effective education, detection, protection, and treatment
    • Expedite and streamline the accreditation of testing kits and facilitate the prompt testing by public and designated private institutions, and compulsory and immediate isolation and treatment of patients
    • Direct the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to shoulder all medical expenses of public and private health workers in case of coronavirus exposure or any work-related injury or disease
    • When the public interest so requires, direct the operation of any private hospitals and similar facilities to house health workers, serve as quarantine areas, or relief and aid distribution locations, as well as public transportation to ferry health, emergency, and front line personnel
    • Ensure that donation, acceptance, and distribution of health products are not delayed
    • Undertake expeditious procurement of the materials and supplies related to healthcare, medical facilities, and medical operations
    • Engage temporary human resources for health such as medical staff to complement or supplement the current health workforce or man temporary medical facilities
    • Liberalize the grant of incentives for the manufacture or importation of critical or needed equipment or supplies
    • Provide public health workers with a “COVID-19 special risk allowance” in addition to hazard pay
    • Provide Php 100,000 compensation to public and private health workers who may get infected with coronavirus in line of duty while Php 1 million will be given to those who may die while fighting the coronavirus pandemic

    Financial and economic assistance

    • Provide emergency subsidy ranging from Php 5,000 to Php 8,000 to around 18 million low income households for two months
    • Partner with the Philippine Red Cross as the primary humanitarian agency auxiliary to the government to give aid to the people subject to reimbursement
    • Ensure the availability of credit to productive sectors of society such as lowering lending rates of interest and reserve requirements of lending institutions
    • Implement an expanded and enhanced Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program
    • Move statutory deadlines for the filing and submission of document, payment of taxes, fees, and other charges to ease the burden of people under community quarantine
    • 30-day grace period for the payment of loans, credit card payments, without interests and penalties and residential rents falling within the quarantine period without interests and penalties

    Public peace and order

    • Ensure all local government units are “acting within the letter and spirit” of rules and regulations, including quarantine guidelines, issued by the national government
    • Continue to enforce measures to protect people from hoarding, profiteering, price manipulation, cartel, and other illegal trade practices
    • Regulate and limit the operation of all land, sea, and air transpiration
    • Regulate traffic and access on all roads, streets, and bridges, prohibit the putting up of encroachments or obstacles, authorize the removal of encroachments and illegal construction in public places

    Labor and utilities

    • Ensure the availability of essential goods, particularly food and medicine, by adopting measures to minimize disruption in the supply chain
    • Require business to prioritize and accept contracts subject to fair and reasonable terms for materials and service
    • Continue to authorize alternative working arrangements for employees and workers in the Executive branch
    • Conserve and regulate the distribution and use of power, fuel, energy, and water and ensure adequate supply

    Budget allocation

    • Direct discontinuance of appropriate programs of any agency of the Executive branch in the national budget and utilize savings to augment allocation related to coronavirus support operations and response
    • Any unutilized or unreleased balance in special purpose fund shall be considered to have their purposes abandoned during the state of emergency. All unspent funds shall be appropriated for COVID-19 response
    • Reprogram, reallocate, and realign from savings on other items in the 2020 national budget as may be necessary and beneficial to fund COVID-19 measures
    • The President is authorized to allocate cash, funds, investments, including unutilized or unreleased subsidies and transfers held by government agencies and state firms
    • Lift the 30 percent cap on the amount set for the quick response fund during the emergency period

    The following granted powers shall be made effective immediately upon its publication in the Official Gazette or in newspapers.

    Withdrawal of powers shall be subject depending on the developments of COVID-19 in the country. Rest assured, as spokesperson Salvador Panelo has stated, that President  Duterte will not abuse his powers.

    You may view the complete provisions of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act here.

    Source: Official, Presidential Communications (Government of the Philippines)

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