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House adopts Senate bill on Duterte powers

Keith A. Calayag

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The House of Representatives has adopted the Senate’s version of the bill granting President Rodrigo Duterte authority to exercise special powers to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The chamber adopted Senate Bill 1418 as an amendment to House Bill 6616 at past 3 a.m. of Tuesday.

This came hours after it approved on third and final reading House Bill 6616 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” with a vote of 284-9.

With the adoption of the bill, it is now up for signing by President Rodrigo Duterte. Both chambers will no longer hold a bicameral conference committee hearing to reconcile disagreeing provisions of their respective versions of the bill.

The adopted bill essentially allows the President to reprogram, reallocate and realign funds to address rising cases of COVID-19.

Under the bill, the Department of Health, Philippine General Hospital, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry are among the departments which will get more funding.

The bill likewise grants the President the power to direct the operation of any privately-owned facilities such as hospitals, medical and health facilities and passenger vessels to ferry frontliners.

Under the bill, the President has the power to streamline the accreditation of testing kits, facilitate the prompt testing of persons under investigation and persons under monitoring, and immediate isolation and treatment of patients.

The bill further gives the President the power to undertake in the most expeditious manner procurement of testing kits, personal protective equipment, face masks and other medical supplies and equipment to be identified by the health department.

p: wjg

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