MANILA, Mar 25 (NNN-PNA) – Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, signed a law that authorises him to exercise “stand-by powers,” necessary to carry out urgent measures, to deal with COVID-19, Senator Christopher Go said, early on Wednesday.
The act, entitled the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, was passed by the Congress, following a marathon special session, on Monday.
Presidential spokesman, Salvador Panelo, said, the law grants “stand-by powers to the president, to carry out effectively the national policy of stopping the spread of the disease, which has endangered the lives of the Filipino people.”
Among others, the law authorised the president to expedite and streamline the accreditation of test kits, facilitate prompt testing of suspected cases and provide emergency subsidy to 18 million low income families in the country.
The measure also empowered the president to temporarily direct the operations of “privately-owned hospitals, medical and health facilities, including passenger vessels and other establishments” when the public interest requires.
The law also tasked the president to ensure the availability of essential goods, in particular food and medicine, and protect the people from illegal and pernicious practices affecting the supply, distribution and movement of certain essential items.
“The Filipino people are assured that the powers granted to the president shall be enforced strictly, in accordance with the constitution. The grant of powers is for a limited period and subject to the restrictions contained therein,” Panelo added.
The Philippines has so far recorded 552 COVID-19 cases, including 35 deaths, according to the Department of Health.