Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is urging Congress to extend President Rodrigo Duterte’s special powers under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law for three months up to September.
In a bill for filing tomorrow, the congressman said the House and the Senate passed the Bayanihan law last March 24 to give the President emergency powers “to respond to the crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“Such powers are good for three months. Unfortunately, two months after the effectively o the law, the end to the pandemic is not yet in sight. There are still new Covid-19 positive cases being reported every day and the country is not yet fully operating,” he said.
He said the Department of Health reported that as of Sunday, the country had 258 new cases, bringing the total to 14,035.
Those who have died from the disease increased by five to 868, while the number of those who have recovered went up by 72 to 3,249.
“It is therefore clear that the pandemic will not be over by June 24, 2020. As such, we need to extend the effectivity of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and give the President additional time to address the pandemic,” Rodriguez said.
He said he would have filed the bill today if it were not a holiday.
“Since there is a similar proposal in the Senate, I am urging the leaders of the two chambers of Congress to consider approving the proposed extension before we go on our annual mandatory adjournment next weekend,” he said.
He added that if the legislature fails to pass the bill before Saturday next week, the President will have to call lawmakers to a special session during the recess if he wants his emergency powers under the Bayanihan law extended.
The President’s special authority under the law includes providing financial assistance of P5,000 to P8,000 to 18 million low-income households for April and May, realigning the national budget to fund Covid-19 response measures, and procuring personal protective equipment and other supplies for frontline health workers.
Rodriguez noted that the financial aid for this month amounting to P100 billion is yet to be distributed, while the Department of Health and its hospitals are still awaiting a large portion of procured medical supplies.