Senate Bill No. 1418, titled “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,
” authorizes President Rodrigo Duterte to exercise additional powers necessary to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in the country.
The Senate bill was adopted by the House of Representatives on Tuesday morning after lawmakers approved Majority Leader Martin Romualdez’s motion to adopt SB1418 as amendment to House Bill 6616 (We Heal as One Act).
Salient points of the bill are:
Grants the President, among others, control over funds of at least P275 billion under the 2020 General Appropriations Act.
Gives President Legal authority to “direct the operation” of certain privately owned facilities as well as deal with “wayward” local government officials.
Reprogram, reallocate, and realign any appropriation in the 2020 budget which will be used in the fight against Covid-19.
Empowers the President to 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.
The President may take over private business operations subject to the limits and safeguards enshrined in the Constitution, should private business owners “unjustifiably refuse or signified that they are no longer capable of operating their enterprises” as directed by the executive department.
Private entities that will be “directed” by the executive department must be given “reasonable compensation” for any additional damage or costs incurred by the owner or the possessor of the subject property solely on account of complying with the directive.
Authorizes President to expedite and streamline accreditation of testing kits and facilitate prompt testing;
Ensures that all Local Government Units (LGUs) are acting in line with the rules issued by the national government;
Continue to enforce measures to protect the people from hoarding, profiteering, injurious speculations, manipulation of prices, product deceptions, and cartels;
Prioritize the allocation and distribution of medical supplies to coronavirus-referral hospitals, public and private laboratories, and health facilities that have capacities to test and care for suspected Covid-19 patients.
Ensure the availability of credit to the productive sectors of the economy;
Liberalize the grant of incentives for the manufacture or importation of critical or needed equipment or supplies;
Require businesses to prioritize and accept contracts, subject to fair and reasonable terms, needed to boost government’s fight against Covid-19;
Regulate and limit the operation of all sectors of transportation through land, sea or air, whether private or public;
Conserve, regulate and ensure an adequate supply of power, fuel, energy and water;
Undertake such other measures as may be reasonable and necessary to enable the President to carry out the declared national policy subject to the Bill of Rights and other constitutional guarantees.
The President’s authorized powers “shall be valid for three months, unless amended by Congress”.
President Duterte will be required to submit a weekly report to the Congress of all actions he performed under the proposed law.
The bill also aims to provide “emergency subsidies” ― amounting between P5,000 and P8,000 per month for two months ― to some 18 million indigent families whose livelihood are severely affected by enhanced community quarantine being implemented in Luzon.
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The bill also guarantees that public health workers tending to Covid-19 patients and other related procedures will be entitled to additional compensation on top of their usual hazard pay.
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