EDITORIAL-  Extra powers vs COVID
EDITORIAL- Extra powers vs COVID
(The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2020 - 12:00am

Additional powers are needed by President Duterte for speedier response to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. This was the principal explanation of the administration in seeking special or “standby” powers for the President to enhance responses to the COVID-19 contagion.

Within one day, Congress overwhelmingly approved the grant of the additional powers, which give the President wide leeway in mobilizing public funds during the state of national emergency.

Critics have expressed concern over the measure, which the President has formally signed, but defenders of the special powers argue that an unprecedented crisis calls for unprecedented responses.

Malacañang has sought to assuage concerns over abuses of human rights and violations of the Constitution. Assurances have been given that there will be no arbitrary state takeover of private hospitals, transportation units and telecommunications companies.

Still, legal challenges are possible, especially in connection with the special power to realign appropriations in the national budget for other purposes. Thanks to advances in information technology, people can closely monitor the way power is put to good use – or abused.

With the global uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic, people are generally willing to go along even with drastic measures to stop the contagion. The President asked for additional tools to deal with the crisis, and Congress granted them. Ultimately, the test of the additional powers will be in the way they are wielded. Dramatic measures are expected to yield dramatic results.

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