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Senators seek to extend Duterte’s special powers

senators seek to extend dutertes special powers - Senators seek to extend Duterte’s special powers

SEVERAL BILLS seeking to extend the validity of a law giving President Rodrigo R. Duterte special powers to fight a coronavirus pandemic have been filed at the Senate.

Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri filed a bill that will extend the effectivity of the law, which will expire next month, until September.

The law allowed the President to realign the budget for anti-COVID-19 measures. Under the law, low-income households were supposed to get as much as P8,000 in monthly cash aid for two months.

There is a need to “provide emergency support for vulnerable groups and individuals, expand medical resources to fight COVID-19 and finance emergency initiatives to keep the economy afloat.” Mr. Zubiri said in the bill’s explanatory note.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III on Wednesday said the chamber would approve the extension before the session adjourns on June 3.

Senator Ralph G. Recto also filed a bill that pushed for the extension until Sept. 30.

His measure provides for a P600-billion reserve budget for economic recovery. It includes P30 billion worth of emergency subsidy to workers, P20 billion for a cash for work program, P20 billion for prevention and control of other diseases and P10 billion for mass testing.

It will also include a P70-billion funding for capital infusion to state-owned banks, P80 billion for programs for health and displaced workers and P20 billion for the farm sector.

Also yesterday Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said at a forum economic managers wanted to keep the flexibility given to the government under the law.

Meanwhile, the Senate finance committee will hear economic stimulus and recovery bills on Friday, starting with a consultation with the private sector.

Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, who heads the panel, said the committee would try to adjust the law on special powers if needed.

“We’ll take a look at what is working and what needs tweaking if any,” Mr. Angara said in a statement. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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