Bill granting Duterte additional special powers approved at Senate second reading
Bayanihan To Heal as One Act lapses this week, to give Duterte additional special powers until September, Senate pushes bill dubbed “Bayanihan 2”
Jun 3, 2020
The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act will be expiring Jun. 24. To continue its provisions, the upper chamber is pushing for a new law that will grant the President additional special powers. Senate Bill (SB) No. 1564 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill aims to expand the first Bayanihan Act.
The Bayanihan to Recover as One bill, which many news outfits also refer to as Bayanihan 2, will give the President authority to realign the fund for the government’s budget against COVID-19 measures until Sept. 30. Contrary to the first act, SB 1564 repeals the provision that allows Duterte to take over hospitals and other private facilities. Authorities will also no longer be allowed to sanction citizens who are violating quarantine policies.
Also included in the provisions are measures to mandate testing for public and private workers every 15 days, as well as for the Department of Health to adopt a “uniform and consistent reporting standard in a language understandable by the general public,” Inquirer reports.
There are also provisions for education, among which include subsidies and loan assistance for schools, colleges, faculty and students for the purchase of tools and equipment needed for distance learning.
Congress has to pass the bill before they take a two-month break on Jun. 5. Therefore, to speed up the process, the upper chamber has to request for either a special session or wait for the President’s certification so that the bill can pass the second and third reading on the same day. The lower chamber is yet to discuss the bill at plenary sessions.
Without any extension of powers under the first Bayanihan Act, the President will lose the authority to use the government funds for further COVID-19 plans.
The Senate can pass the new bill for third reading either on Wednesday or Thursday if the President certifies the bill as urgent.
Header image courtesy of Albert Calvelo/Senate PRIB, as posted on Senate of the Philippines’ Facebook page
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