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3 more months! Palace wants Duterte’s special powers extended

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By Prince Golez

A three-month extension of the emergency powers granted to President Rodrigo Duterte to manage the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis in the country is “ideal,” Malacañang said Wednesday.

“The three-month period is ideal although what (National Economic and Development Authority) Secretary Karl Chua suggested is not too far away from the there-month period because we are already in June,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview with ANC.

Chua earlier pushed for the extension of the validity of Bayanihan to Heal as One Act until the end of the year to strengthen the immediate response to the health emergency caused by the viral disease.

“The important thing is, if Congress gives us 90 days, they will be still in session when the emergency powers cease because they are still in session in September and they can give the emergency powers (another extension) if they wish to and if Malacañang would request,” Roque also said.

On March 25, Duterte signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11469 that grants him 30 special powers to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic until June.

Under Section 4 of the law, the President is authorized to adopt the following temporary emergency measures to respond to the crisis:

*Adopt and implement measures to prevent or suppress further transmission and spread of Covid-19 through effective education, detection, protection, and treatment following World Health Organization guidelines and best practices

*Expedite and streamline the accreditation of testing kits and facilitate prompt testing by public and designated private institutions of PUIs and PUMs, and the compulsory and immediate isolation and treatment of patients

*Provide an emergency subsidy to around 18 million low-income households. The subsidy shall amount to a minimum of P5,000 to a maximum of P8,000 a month for two months.

*Ensure that all public health workers are protected by providing them with a Covid-19 special risk allowance, in addition to the hazard pay granted under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers

*Direct the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to shoulder all medical expenses of public and private health workers in case of exposure to Covid-19 or any work-related injury or disease during the duration of the emergency

*Provide compensation of P100,000 to public and private health workers who may contract sever Covid-19 infection while in the line of duty. A compensation of P1 million shall be given to public and private health workers, who may die while fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

*Ensure that all local government units (LGUs) are acting within the letter and spirit of all the rules, regulations and directives issued by the national government pursuant to this Act; are implementing standards of community quarantine consistent with what the national government has laid down for the subject area, while allowing LGUs to continue exercising their autonomy in matters undefined by the national government or are within the parameters it has set; and are fully cooperating towards a unified, cohesive, and orderly implementation of the national policy to address Covid-19.

*Direct the operation of any privately-owned hospitals and medical and health facilities including passenger vessels and, other establishments, to house health workers, serve as quarantine areas, quarantine centers, medical relief, and aid distribution locations, or other temporary medical facilities; and public transportation to ferry health, emergency, and frontline personnel and other persons

*Continue to enforce measures to protect the people from hoarding, profiteering, injurious speculations, manipulation of prices, product deceptions, and cartels, monopolies or other combinations in restraint of trade, or other pernicious practices affecting the supply, distribution and movement of food, clothing, hygiene and sanitation products, medicine and medical supplies, fuel, fertilizers, chemicals, building materials, implements, machinery equipment and spare parts required in agriculture, industry and other essential services, and other articles of prime necessity, whether imported or locally produced or manufactured

*Ensure that donation, acceptance and distribution of health products intended to address the Covid-19 public health emergency are not unnecessarily delayed and that health products for donation duly certified by the regulatory agency or their accredited third party from countries with established regulation shall automatically be cleared; and

*Undertake the procurement of the following as the need arises, in the most expeditious manner, as exemptions from the provisions of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act and other relevant laws, among others.

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