Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

With President Rodrigo Duterte issuing a state of national emergency due to Covid-19 outbreak, the Philippine President announced in his recent SONA yesterday that he’s seeking a grant for “necessary and proper” powers to adopt several “temporary emergency measures” against the coronavirus.

Bill No. 1418, aka Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, has been greenlighted by the Senate with a Voting of 12-0 as of March 24.

“Pursuant to Article VI, Section 23 (2) of the Constitution, the President is hereby authorized to exercise powers that are necessary and proper to carry out the declared national policy,” the bill states.

What’s interesting, despite potentially disputable to some, is how such granting of special powers to the Philippine President can achieve, once this bill will be passed and be implemented nationwide to effectively and speedily mitigate the spread of the virus.

Dealing with PUIS and PUMs

Besides general preventive and mitigating measures, among the temporary emergency measures include the speedy process of dealing with PUIs and PUMs especially for those who are tested positive for Covid-19. The president has a power to “Expedite the medical testing and observation of PUIs and PUMs and the immediate treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19” which requires IMMEDIATE ISOLATION AND TREATMENT OF PATIENTS”, according to the Bill on Section 4.

Distribution of health products and donation

What’s also in the bill is the proper and quick distribution of health products, including donation acceptance, where both is stated to “ADDRESS THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY ARE NOT UNNECESSARILY DELAYED.”

Covid-19 related institutions and frontliners are prioritized

Similarly, necessary products and protective equipment are to be allocated in the priority of health and medical institutions, including scientific and research institutions that are capable to combat Covid-19, all to be done by the Department of Health, as summarized according to the bill.

This indicates that the senate bill 1418 aids health and medical frontliners who are most susceptible to infection, as well as empowering scientists and researchers who are coming up with solutions to ease the virus. Another to note is providing venue for “use to house health workers or serve as quarantine centers, medical relief and aid distribution locations, or temporary medical facilities.”

In terms of financial allocation that is under the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA), will also be affected partly to address the virus outbreak, in which they are majorly provided for the following related institutions:

  • Department of Health
  • Philippine General Hospital under the University of the Philippines
  • National Disaster Risk Reduction Fund/Calamity Fund
  • Related programs of the Department of Labor and Employment addressing affected workers during Covid-19
  • Livelihood Seeing Program under the Department of Trade and Industry
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development programs
  • Local government units

While the coronavirus continues to stay and stifle the nation, the granting of special powers by the president provides that both public and private sectors are kept in check, as well as the distribution of items, equipment, budget, and donation were done so without confusion and delay. It is a necessary step to address the emergency efficiently and in accomplishing it much faster.