(Apr. 30, 2020) On March 25, 2020, the Philippine government announced the approval of Republic Act 11469, a law granting extraordinary powers to President Rodrigo Duterte aimed at combatting COVID-19.
Specifically, section 4 of the law authorizes the president to execute a wide variety of financial and operational measures to address the pandemic, including the following:
- The government’s national budget is to be realigned due to the health crisis. Thus, all unspent, unutilized, or unreleased special purpose funds sourced from collections or receipts may be utilized by the president and are appropriated for addressing the COVID-19 situation.
- These funds will be used to provide approximately 18 million low-income households with a monthly emergency subsidy.
- In addition, public health workers will receive a COVID-19 risk allowance, in addition to hazard pay.
- The president may transform certain public hospitals (including the Philippine General Hospital) into medical facilities dedicated to treat COVID-19 cases.
- He may also temporarily request that the operations of privately-owned hospitals and health facilities be directed toward housing health workers or serving as quarantine areas.
- The president may take over the operations of private companies that unjustifiably refuse or signify that they are no longer able to operate due to the outbreak.
- He can take pertinent measures aimed at protecting people from hoarding, profiteering, and price manipulation.
- He may require businesses to prioritize and accept contracts to deliver necessary services and materials, and to expedite the production of essential medical equipment and protective gear, subject to fair and reasonable terms.
The president must submit a weekly report to Congress of all acts performed and funds utilized pursuant to the act during the preceding week. The report must include the amount and utilization of the funds used, reprogrammed, and realigned. (§ 5.)
The act will be in force for three months unless extended by Congress. The powers granted under the act may be ended sooner by a concurrent resolution of Congress or by presidential proclamation. (§ 9.)