Philippines

Highlights of Duterte’s 1st weekly report on use of additional powers vs COVID-19

By April 25, 2020 No Comments

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has submitted to Congress his first weekly report on his use of additional powers to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.

Duterte was supposed to submit the report on Monday but according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, the President submitted his full report early Tuesday.

The weekly report is part of the checks and balances measure under the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” which gave Duterte additional powers to address the health crisis.

A joint congressional oversight committee composed of four members of each house to be appointed by the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives will determine whether Duterte’s acts, orders, rules, and regulations are within the restrictions provided.

Here are the highlights of the President’s first weekly report:

Businesses takeover power ‘reserved’

Duterte “reserved” two of the additional powers granted to him by Congress that have the “gravest potential impact on the private sector, if done without utmost care.”

“One is the power to direct the operation of the specified private establishments or to take over their operations in very specific conditions,” Duterte’s report said.

“The other is the power to require businesses to prioritize contracts for materials and services necessary for this crisis. The president will exercise these powers only when absolutely necessary,” he added.

Other additional powers granted to him have been delegated to specific officials such as the Secretaries of Transportation, Information and Communications Technology, and Trade and Industry departments.

Gov’t still refining list of recipients of emergency subsidy

Concerned government agencies are still working to finalize the list of around 18 million low-income Filipino families who would receive the emergency subsidy program.

Duterte said the Department of Finance (DOF) would provide “technical assistance to the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) in forming a consolidated database that will host COVID-19 social amelioration programs.”

“The database will be derived from existing beneficiary lists submitted by government agencies and LGUs (local government units), and will be used to determine the subsidy amounts for household beneficiaries,” he added.

The program includes the provision of cash and non-cash monthly assistance for low-income households amounting to P5,000 to 8,000 for two months.

Special risk allowance for health workers

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is now drafting an executive issuance on the granting of a special risk allowance for public health workers.

This was in compliance with Section 4 (d) of the Bayanihan Act which seeks to “ensure that all public health workers are protected by providing them with a ‘COVID-19 special risk allowance’.”

The special risk allowance is on top of the hazard pay granted under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers or Republic Act No. 7305.

DOST allots P53M to fund UP-made COVID-19 test kits

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has allotted P53.2 million as fundingfor the development of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVD-19) test kits by the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health (UPNIH) in response to the pandemic.

Field validation of the UPNIH COVID-19 test kits is ongoing and is expected to be finished by April 1.

DOST said the locally-developed kit is estimated to cost at P1,320 per test. This is cheaper than its foreign counterparts which cost P8,500 per test.

NBI probing ‘wayward’ local officials

Duterte has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate and prepare appropriate charges against local government officials who violated the guidelines of the 30-day Luzon-wide quarantine.

“The NBI is investigating and filing charges against local government officials who willfully disregard, contravene, or violate national guidelines on community quarantine set by the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases),” Duterte said in his report.

Campaign against profiteering, hoarding

The government has so far arrested 59 persons for profiteering and hoardingamid the COVID-19 crisis.

Duterte reported that the task force composed of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), NBI and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have jointly launched 39 operations nationwide from March 19 to 28 which led to the arrest of the said individuals.

The DTI and the Department of Agriculture have likewise conducted joint market inspections to ensure the compliance of vendors with the mandatory price freeze on all basic commodities.

Loan fund for micro and small companies

The DTI is opening a P1-billion loan fund that will be made available to micro and small companieswhen the quarantine is lifted.

The loan fund will be called P3-ERF (enterprise rehabilitation financing).

No P/A/Ps discontinued yet

As of March 27, no appropriated programs, projects or activities or P/A/P have been discontinued yet, Duterte said in his report. But he asked the following agencies to follow the move of the DOST when it allocated over P53 million for the funding of COVID-19 test kits:

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DBM readies unreleased appropriations

The DBM is currently preparing an initial master list of all unreleased appropriations under the Special Purpose Funds (SPFs) (estimated at P372.719 Billion) with the following components:

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As of March 27, no SPFs have been utilized for COVID-19 measures except for the P500 million replenishment of the Department of Health’s Quick Response Fund, which is charged against the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund.

Gov’t funds yet to be reallocated

The President likewise reported that as of March 27, government funds are yet to be reprogrammed, reallocated or realigned pending the submission of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 response’s submission of its final budgetary requirements, especially on the social amelioration measures.

To ensure uninterrupted access to cash, the Department of Finance and the BTr added P300 billion to its cash reserves by securing a repurchase agreement facility with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The national government will be allowed to convert up to P300 billion of government securities holdings into cash on the condition that it will repurchase the securities at a predetermined period of not more than six months.

The DBM has also transmitted to the DOF a draft joint circular that will cover utilization of eligible cash and cash equivalents of the National Government Agencies and GOCCs, which stands at around P100 billion.

Below is a copy of the President’s first weekly report:

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TAGS: Congress, Coronavirus, COVID-19, financial assistance, government funds, Malacañang, Rodrigo Duterte
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