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The Senate bill giving President Rodrigo Duterte the authority to speed up government transactions is not tantamount to giving him emergency powers, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said Saturday (September 26).

“Technically, we are giving him authority to streamline the present system pagdating sa mga bigayan ng permits, processes, procedures, applications, licenses, clearances, certifications, authorizations,” Sotto said in a radio interview.

Sotto, along with Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Ralph Recto and Panfilo Lacson filed Senate Bill 1844 or the proposed law authorizing the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications.

The Senate President clarified that the proposed authority for Duterte will only be for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Well, hopefully not, especially now during the pandemic kaya nga limitado itong binibigay nating authority ng Presidente. That is why we do not want to call it emergency powers. Special authority to yun nga suspend or waive requirements, pag se-secure ng mga licenses, permits, clearances, certifications, authorizations. Mga ganoon lang,” Sotto explained.

Duterte last week met with Sotto, Senator Bong Go, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez to seek the passage of laws to end red tape in government and seek amendments to the Ease of Doing Business law.

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