Emergency powers vs COVID-19
Emergency powers vs COVID-19
LATEST UPDATE: September 20, 2020 - 1:38pm
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2 days ago

In the sweltering heat and humidity, 31-year-old Caitlyn Tojanes grumbles about having to wear a face shield over her mask as she waits in line for her bus in the Philippine capital Manila.

"It's uncomfortable. Combined with the long queues it means we get to work already tired and bathed in sweat," said Tojanes, whose commute involves three buses and takes several hours.

But she is resigned to the new normal in the Philippines, where it is now compulsory to wear both masks and plastic shields in indoor public spaces and on public transport to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"With Covid, it's up to the people to maintain discipline," said Tojanes, who works as a store manager in the sprawling capital of 12 million where most of the country's infections have been recorded. — AFP

September 16, 2020

The government should prioritize buying locally-made Personal Protective Equipment, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto says.

"Not all of the things we need today should be sourced from China, even if it is the world’s factory," Recto says in a press statement.
"What we can manufacture locally, let’s go for it, because doing so will ramp up manufacturing that creates jobs for our people."

He says a coalition of garment manufacturers has committed “an army of 10,000 sewers” ready to go into the production of protective gowns and masks. 

September 11, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the Bayanihan 2 bill into law on Friday. 

Bayanihan 2, which seeks to allocate P165.5 billion to the government’s pandemic war chest and to economic revival programs, was ratified by the two chambers of Congress late last month.

August 31, 2020

Sen. Risa Hontiveros calls on the government to buy more locally-made personal protective equipment to help protect health workers and also help local manufacturers and businesses.

"Hindi kailangang maging martir ng mga health workers natin. Even six months into this pandemic, ensuring adequate protection for them continues to be a problem.  Too many doctors and nurses have died in the line of duty. We have to better ensure that every health worker in every city or province has access to effective and affordable PPE," she says in a statement.

Hontiveros has filed a resolution for the Senate to look into how the Bayanihan PPE Project, a government initiative for local PPE manufacturing, has been doing. The initiative was launched to address tight PPE supply early in the pandemic.

August 17, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has been in Davao City all along, he says in a Facebook video shared by state-run PTV.

The short social media message comes amid speculations on his health and a Palace statement on Sunday refuting rumors that he had left the country.


August 16, 2020

The 'Bayanihan 2' bill, a revival of the law that gave President Rodrigo Duterte sweeping powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic, will have funding for a new round of the Social Amelioration Program of subsidies forced to stay at home by quarantine restrictions.

"Mayroon iyan, P5,000 to P8,000 depende kung saang lugar," Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon says in an interview with Super Radyo DZBB.

The bill also allocates around P10 billion in funding for RT-PCR testing as well as funding for assistance programs like cash-for-work, cash subsidies for workers in small businesses and loans, Drilon says.

August 6, 2020

The government needs to launch a second round of the Social Amelioration Program to help people through the recession, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon says, adding the 16.5-percent decline in the country's GDP was worse than expected.

"We need to do a second round of social amelioration program. We should expand it but we must retain those families who received the first tranche because they are the ones who are badly hit by the pandemic," Drilon says.

"There is no sense that they were included in the first tranche but were delisted in the second tranche. Their lives did not become better after receiving the first tranche. They are the ones who continue to experience hunger every day. The government should provide for them until the pandemic is over," he says.

President Rodrigo Duterte last Sunday said that the government has no more money to provide financial and food aid.

July 29, 2020

Six senators file a resolution ruging the Commission on Audit to conduct a special audit on COVID-19-related government spending, loans and donations.

Sens. Risa Hontiveros, Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, Ralph Recto and Panfilo Lacson ask COA to release its findings before the Congress deliberates on the 2021 national budget.

"Whereas, Congress is set to deliberate on the 2021 budget and, anticipating that massive allocations will need to be made to address the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, it is of critical importance that there be audit findings to guide legislators in their exercise of the power of the purse," the resolution read.

July 28, 2020

The Senate has passed the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act — the sequel to the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act — on third and final reading, News5 reports.

The bill was passed with a vote of 22-1.

July 3, 2020

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima says President Rodrigo Duterte continues to "play victim and recite his weekly lamentation 'wala na tayong pera' despite his emergency powers and a trillion-peso debt expedition.

"Duterte’s Bayanihan Law just expired and it left us no better than we were before. Sa madaling salita, PALPAK," the senator says.

"Tanong ng bayan – “saan ginastos ang pera at mga inutang?” Your answer is probably as good as mine," she adds.

June 25, 2020

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the Palace wants to extend the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act to address future needs like in Cebu City.

The city was placed on lockdown amid the increase of COVID-19 cases.

June 20, 2020

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima calls for investigation on the delays and other logistical problems concerning the distribution of cash assistance for families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In order for the distribution of the remaining cash aid under the first tranche of the SAP and the cash aid under its second tranche may be facilitated in an expeditious and smooth manner, mechanisms that will respond to the glitches faced in the implementation thereof must be reviewed,” De Lima says.

“A senate inquiry in in aid of legislation will be the proper venue to hear the conflicting claims between the stakeholders, and help resolve the reported attendant issues in the implementation of the SAP – which the Senate, along with the House of Representatives, granted unto the President through the Bayanihan Act,” she adds.


June 19, 2020

Ombudsman Samuel Martires says his office will issue subpoenas to Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for the investigation of the budget for COVID-19 response.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' "The Source," Martires says his office started the investigation even before the lockdown was implemented in March 15.

"We have some documents we want to get from DOH, the subpoena is addressed to the secretary of department," Martires tells CNN Philippines Friday morning.

June 16, 2020

Government Service Insurance System reports that they have started to release the life insurance proceeds plus the additional P500,000 benefit  under its Bayanihan Fund for Frontliners to the families of four government frontliners who succumbed to COVID-19.

“GSIS recently released a total of P7.8 million in life insurance benefits plus an additional P2 million in BFF benefits to the legal heirs of four government medical frontliners who died of COVID-19. We are currently in the process of validating the insurance claims of 18 other claimant-families,” says GSIS President and General Manager Rolando Ledesma Macasaet. 

June 8, 2020

There is no urgency to hold special sessions for the second part of the law that provided President Duterte additional powers to respond to the coronavirus pandemic at least for now, Malacañang said yesterday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reiterated the position of the executive branch that the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act would remain in effect until June 25. He said the law took effect immediately upon its publication in a newspaper of general circulation or in the Official Gazette and would be in full force for three months unless extended by Congress.

"The President signed the Bayanihan Act on March 24, and was published in newspapers on March 25, a day after it was signed by the President," Roque said at a press briefing.  

— The STAR/Artemio Dumao

June 5, 2020

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says he takes responsibility for the delay of financial assistance to the families of healthcare workers who succumbed to COVID-19

Duque earlier blamed his subordinates for supposed lack of urgency in addressing the issue during the press briefing.

June 5, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte questions why there are no implementing rules and regulations for a provision of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act that provides compensation for health workers who contracted COVID-19.

"You cannot run your own errands, someone has to do it for you," Duterte tells Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with the inter-agency task force on COVID-19.

Duque, on the other hand, answers the president that 32 families have already been identified as eligible for P1-million aid. These are the families of health workers who died from the disease.

"Nakakahiya talaga sir, namatayan na nga pero parang walang sense of urgency ang mga tao ko. Ang sama-sama ng loob ko," Duque says.

June 3, 2020

The Senate has approved a bill to extend President Rodrigo Duterte's emergency powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic on second reading.

The bill, called Bayanihan to Recover as One, extends the grant of those powers until September.

June 3, 2020

Senate President Tito Sotto asks Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to immediately implement Section 4(f) of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, which provides compensation to public and private health workers who contracted COVID-19, as well as the families of health workers who died from the disease.

In a letter, Sotto expressed concern that no health worker and his or her family have received their supposed renumeration for sacrificing their lives after more than two months of the implementation of the law.

"May I remind you that we, as public servants, are duty-bound to cushion the effects that this pandemic brings and not to add to the problem or, worst, to be the problem and source of panic and further uncertainties in this already challenging world," Sotto tells Duque.

June 3, 2020

Sen. Risa Hontiveros calls for an assessment of government measures against the COVID-19 pandemic before allowing an extension of emergency powers granted to President Rodrigo Duterte in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

"We should have established sufficient infrastructure and mustered enough human resources to adequately respond to this health crisis. However, this is clearly not the case," she said.

Hontiveros says that despite the emergency powers, the government has failed to meet its health and economic relief targets. She says there have been testing backlogs, slow contact tracing and delayed test releases.

The proposal to extend the emergency powers is called the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill.

May 30, 2020

Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima questions the looming extension of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.

"Wala pang mass testing, Part 2 na ng Bayanihan Act? Di pa nga nasisingil ang mass testing sa Part 1 eh," says De Lima.

"It appears that the problem is not whatever additional special powers under any law we give to the president, the problem is the president," she adds.

May 28, 2020

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri files a bill seeking for the extension of Republic Act 11469 or the "Bayanihan to Heal as One Act" until September 30.

The senator notes that there is sustained local community transmission as more COVID-19 cases are reported daily.

"The extension will allow the President to continue to exercise the realignment of items in the national budget and other powers granted to him under the said law to be able 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," Zubiri says.

April 30, 2020

The Government Service Insurance System is set to release P12.9 million in life insurance benefits to the families or beneficiaries of the eight government health workers who succumbed to COVID-19. This was announced today by Rolando Ledesma Macasaet, President and General Manager of the state pension fund.

“Our insurance officers are already coordinating with the bereaved families. Once the papers are duly processed, we will release the amounts without delay,” says Rolando Ledesma Macasaet, GSIS president and general manager.  

“And as promised, we will be granting an additional P500,000 under our Bayanihan Fund for Frontliners (BFF) on top of their regular insurance benefits in recognition of their heroism and selfless dedication to public service,” he adds.

April 29, 2020

The Department of Social Welfare and Development should include senior citizens in its social amelioration program, even those already receiving pensions, Sen. Risa Hontiveros says.

She has filed a resolution that, if adopted, will be the opinion of the Senate.

"An overwhelming majority of our senior citizens are poor. The quarantine exposes and magnifies their physical and financial vulnerabilities," Hontiveros says as she filed the resolution, which urges expansion of subsidies to senior citizens "who live with their spouses, the unaccompanied, and the homeless."

She notes that 68% of COVID-19 fatalities are elderly.

"A massive number of senior citizens who were left out of the initial DSWD memorandum only receives P5,000 or less a month under SSS and GSIS pension programs and only as mere supplement to their informal income," she also says.

She says that "the exclusion of pensioned senior citizens ignores the fact that many of them who still work in the informal economy face even graver difficulties because they are deprived of livelihood amid this crisis."

April 27, 2020

Acknowledging the need for an extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in areas with high cases of COVID-19, Vice President Leni Robredo says the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to do so was a "tough balancing act."

"Mahirap, pero kailangan. Mabuti the president made the difficult decision," Robredo says in an interview with CNN Philippines' "The Source" Monday morning.

The vice president, however, points out that the ECQ is not a cure to the deadly virus but gives the country time to prepare.

April 26, 2020

Sen. Nancy Binay cautions the labor department over its move to have an OFW in Taiwan deported over social media posts critical of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Paalala lang po sa mga labor attaches na kayo ang kanlungan at sandigan ng ating mga OFW," she says on her Twitter account.

(Just a reminder to our labor attaches that you are the shelter and support of our OFWs)

 She adds: "Wag maging Bagong Makapili sa harap ng mga bagong bayani."

(Don't be collaborators against our 'modern heroes')

RELATED: DOLE hit for policing Taiwan OFW's Facebook posts

April 24, 2020
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging and Infectious Diseases recommended that some areas in medium risk be under a general community quarantine subject to further review.

These are:

  • Abra
  • Ilocos Norte
  • La Union
  • Cagayan
  • Isabela
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Marinduque
  • Camarines Sur
  • Aklan
  • Capiz
  • Samar
  • Western Samar
  • Zamboanga Del Sur
  • Lanao Del Norte
  • Misamis Occidental
  • Misamis Oriental
  • North Cotabato
  • South Cotabato
  • Maguindanao

A general community quarantine is a less stringent form of the lockdown currently imposed on Metro Manila. Details are available in our live blog.

April 23, 2020

The Government Service Insurance System announces they will give additional life insurance coverage to a total of 27,682 frontline workers of the government nationwide who are putting their lives at risk in the battle against COVID-19.

“The GSIS Board of Trustees, headed by our Chairman, former Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, recently approved the establishment of the Bayanihan Fund for Frontliners (BFF), which entitles the survivors of government frontliners who died of COVID-19 to receive an additional Php500,000 in insurance benefits,” Rolando Ledesma Macasaet, GSIS president and general manager says. 

“This is on top of the one-million-peso death benefit to be provided by the government under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law and the regular life insurance benefit from GSIS,” he adds.

April 22, 2020

Navy ships BRP Mariano Alvarez and BRP Davao del Sur are leaving Oman to head home but will pick up personal protective equipment from Port Cochin, India first, the Philippine Navy says.

"The vessels will make brief stop at Port Cochin, India to pick-up personal protective equipment donated by a foreign private company in coordination with the Office of the Civil Defense, the government’s agency that is mandated to consolidate all donations to the national government and the Department of Health in this COVID 19 pandemic," the Navy says.

The ships had initially sailed from Manila to help in the possible repatriation of distressed OFWs from the Middle East.

"During the mission, the 400-man contingent led by Marine Colonel Noel Beleran made its historic milestone for the Navy, these include the historic sail on Indian Ocean by PN ships that validates its status as a Navy that is now capable to sustain operations across open oceans; and the port visits to Sri Lanka and Oman that paved the way to reinforcing diplomatic ties with these countries," it also says.

April 20, 2020

Only rapid antibody-based test kids approved by the Food and Drug Administration and locally validated by the Research Institute for Tropical Medice or the Department of Science and Technology may be used to confirm COVID-19 cases in the country.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesperson of the country's COVID-19 task force, says reporting of confirmed and recovered cases will still be based on real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing in accordance with Administrative Order 2020-0013.

"Rapid antibody-based test kits shall not be used as standalone tests to definitively diagnose or rule out COVID-19. Because these must be used in conjunction with RT-PCR, care must be exercised to not unduly consume RT-PCR test kits for the sake of confirmation," Nograles says at the Laging Handa virtual briefing Monday.

April 17, 2020

The Department of Science and Technology plans to set up at least 132 specimen collection booths in different regions nationwide to facilitate the government's expanded testing efforts.

Regional offices of the DOST will partner with the Department of Health in setting up the specimen collection booths across the country, according to Inter-Agency Task Force  for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

"As the IATF repeatedly stresses, improving our testing capabilities is one of government’s top priorities," Nograles said at the Laging Handa virtual briefing.

April 15, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte highlighted four major areas wherein ASEAN members can support each other in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IATF spokesperson Karlo Nograles says.

In a virtual meeting with his Southeast Asian counterparts, Duterte emphasized the need to boost the production and intra-ASEAN trade of medical equipment to address shortages.

The president also highlighted cooperation on food security, vaccine research and development, as well as preparations to be ready for future outbreaks.

April 13, 2020

Finance chief Sonny Dominguez says the Philippines is financially prepared until the end of May as the government extends the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine until April 30.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' "The Source", Dominguez said the second tranche of government assistance to the vulnerable sector will be done in May.

"We are in a strong financial position to take the hit from the coronavirus crisis," Dominguez told CNN Philippines.

April 12, 2020

The goverment should "conduct a speedy review" of what state-owned assets can be sold off quickly to fund measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon says.

The statement comes after President Rodrigo Duterte said he will sell government property as a last resort if the government cannot raise enough money for COVID-19 response and for aid to those affected by the lockdowns across the country.

"Better utilization of these state assets is long overdue as a national policy," Drilon says.

"As I said before,the government does not have to look far to raise additional revenues. There are ‘low-hanging fruits’ the government can immediately tap to provide the much-needed resources for our country to survive this pandemic," he also says.

He says the government can privatize the legal gambling industry, which says is an "untapped 'goldmine' that can generate up to P300 billion in fresh revenues yearly."

April 12, 2020

The Department of Social Welfare and Development has released aid to 3.78 million beneficiaries, the bulk of whom are from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista says only 54,160 of its beneficiaries are not from the 4Ps program, which usually provides cash incentives for poor Filipinos to keep their children in school and to bring them to health centers.

The department has disbursed P16.35 billion to the 4Ps beneficiaries and another P335 million to the non-4Ps.

April 10, 2020

The Philippines launches an online emergency response system that will help curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The National Task Force against COVID-19 signed a memorandum of agreement with Manila-based developer Multisys to create a website and application called StaySafe.ph.

The online platform "encourages people to report their health condition as well as those of their family members."

April 5, 2020

The Department of Information and Communcations Technology and the Philippine National Police have formed "Task Force COVID Kontra Peke", which is tasked with "preventing and reporting fake news."

In a release, DICT says its "Cybersecurity Bureau through the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-PH) is charged with technical assistance on information sharing and analysis for law enforcement agencies, including the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation."

April 5, 2020

The conversion of the Rizal Memorial Complex in Manila into a quarantine facility for COVID-19 patients will be completed by Monday, April 6, the National Task Force against COVID-19 says.

The quarantine area, which will be operational on the same day, will be for COVID-19 patients from the Philippine General Hospital.

"Our strategy is to transfer patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms. It will also be manned by three doctors and 50 nurses from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police medical services," presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the national action plan against COVID-19, says.

April 4, 2020

The Clark International Airport Corporation says it has remitted at least P130 million to the Bureau of Treasury to help boost the government’s efforts in fighting the spread of COVID-19. 

Joshua Bingcang, CIAC officer-in-charge, says the amount of P130,535,077.59, representing payment of dividends due from CIAC, was remitted to the Bureau of Treasury on April 2.

"This is CIAC's response to the call of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade who directed DOTr-attached agencies to advance dividends to the Department of Finance to support government’s spending measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the implementation of RA 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act,” Bingcang says.

April 4, 2020

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers says the grant of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte "made the dangers more real."

"Nothing is more corrosive to a democracy than a citizenry that is fearful of asserting a right or protesting a wrong, for democracy’s strength, a noted jurist once wrote, 'lies not in the rights it guarantees but in the courage of the people to invoke them whenever they are ignored or violated,'” says the group.


April 4, 2020

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno responds to Duterte, who called him a 'lousy lawyer' and insulted him for his teeth

Diokno tweets:

"Mr. President, may mga kliyente akong tinutulungan na tinitiis na ang sakit at gutom, ngunit wala akong sinabihang manggulo o lumabag ng batas. Okay lang na pag-initan n’yo ako, pero tutukan n’yo rin ang pangangailangan ng mga tao."

April 2, 2020

The Magdalo party-list says the announcement of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission asking the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate Vice President Leni Robredo is "utterly ridiculous" 

"We are in a middle of a public health crisis. This is not a competition. This time is about helping in every way we can," says the party-list in a statement.

"It is disappointing that those who are performing their duties are being attacked, while there are many government officials who were not even seen by their constituents since this crisis started. Instead of targeting the Vice President, maybe the administration could take her practices as models to improve their work and bring the best service to the people," it adds.


April 2, 2020

The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission's assertion that the Office of the Vice President is competing with government relief operations during the COVID-19 pandemic are "ridiculous, inappropriate and out of touch," he spokesman says.

"Since Day One of the COVID-19 crisis, VP Leni has done all she can to help health workers, government institutions, and ordinary Filipinos overcome the challenges they have had to face due to the restrictions on travel, the shortages in supplies, and, of course, the ever present threat of infection," lawyer Barry Gutierrez says.

"Anyone who insists that bringing much needed assistance to hospitals, health workers, and poor Filipinos is somehow a 'competition' has absolutely no understanding of the gravity of the crisis we are all facing," he also says.


April 2, 2020

The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission asked the National Bureau of Investigation to go after Vice President Leni Robredo, whose office has been raising funds and providing services singlehandedly in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Robredo's efforts are competing with government, the PACC claims, despite the fact that any help to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus, assist health workers and others affected are necessary.

"The PACC statement is so ridiculous, so inappropriate, so out of touch, that I had to verify if it was really true. I am deeply disappointed that it was," Barry Gutierrez, the vice president's lawyer, said in a statement.

April 1, 2020

Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan questions the action of the National Bureau of Investigation against Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto which asked the young mayor to explain a possible violation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. 

"Paano nilabag ni Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto ang batas na hindi pa batas? Ginamit ang mga improvised tricycle bago mag-March 18. Umapela, tinanggihan, at sumunod sa utos si Mayor Vico March 19. Naging batas ang Bayanihan to Act Heal as One Act (Special Powers Act) noong March 24," Pangilinan says.

"A case against Mayor Vico for acts done before the effectivity of the Special Powers Act will not fly as it will violate Art. III, Sec. 22 of the Constitution, which reads “[n]o ex post facto law or bill of attainder shall be enacted,” he adds.

March 31, 2020

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asks whether the government has enough funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic while encouraging the speedy implementation of P200-billion aid to low-income families and other programs in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. 

"We need to augment funding for our healthcare system, buy more test kits, personal protective equiipment (PPEs), mechanical ventilators, among others," Drilon says. 

Drilon, however, says the lack of sufficient funds will undermine government interventions to fight COVID-19.

March 31, 2020

The government should have an online master list of the beneficiaries of the P200 billion in financial aid that will be give to poor Filipino families affected by quarantine measures against COVID-19, Sen. Joel Villanueva says.

"One of the pressing concerns we have is the distribution of the emergency subsidy worth P5,000 to P8,000 which will help our workers in the no work, no pay sector, and workers in the informal economy, and their respective families, among other sectors," he also says on Tuesday, the day that the executive branch submitted its report on its use of the emergency powers granted by Congress.

"While our executive has assured us that the list of beneficiaries will be streamlined, we suggest that our government place the final list of beneficiaries, including names and their barangays, in a website which will serve as a transparency mechanism and a convenient form of accounting for the public," he adds.

He says that while the purchase of more Personal Protective Equipment for medical workers is welcome, "let us not also forget that our hospitals in NCR and in the provinces need ventilators for them to help patients."

"We appreciate the efforts of our government in utilizing the resources it has been given to address the effects of COVID-19. Our legislature responded to the call of the times through the Bayanihan law," he also says.

March 31, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte, in a late night address on Monday night, acknowledges that the Philippines is short on money and medical supplies.

He also says that the country had been short of resources even before the COVID-19 outbreak. He adds even the US is having trouble addressing the novel coronavirus disease.

"Ang masasabi ko lang meron tayo P200 billion binigay sa akin ng Kongreso para gastusin ko. Yun naman po ginagamit ko pakalat na pera para mabigyan lahat, mga walang trabaho, may trabaho kalahating trabaho, ang mayaman di na kasali," he says.

(All I can say is that we have P200 billion that Congress gave me to spend. That money will be distributed so everyone will get aid. The displaced workers, those with some work... the rich will not get any)

Under the 'Bayanihan' law that declared a state of national emergency and gave Duterte broad powers to realign the national budget and to implement other measures to address the COVID-19 outbreak, the executive branch was supposed to give a report to Congress on how those powers have been used.

The weekly reports were due on Monday.

Duterte's televised address was not that report.

March 30, 2020

President Duterte's address has not yet started 6 hours after it was tentatively set at 4 p.m.

March 25, 2020

A human rights watchdog says the "falsehood information" provision of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act is "over-broad and  can easily be misused by Philippine authorities to crack down on online criticism of government efforts."

"Given the Duterte administration’s well-documented hostility towards freedom of the press and online critics, this law could be used to criminalize any online information the government dislikes," says Human Rights Watch in a statement.

"Rather than abusing people’s free speech rights, the Duterte administration should focus on providing the public with accurate and timely information about COVID-19," it adds.   

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the bill that grants him special powers to address the novel coronavirus outbreak in the Philippines. Bookmark this page for updates. 

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