Coronavirus: Philippine President Seeks Power Above Firms, Supplies, Funds

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his fourth State of the Nation Address at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
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A committee of the Philippines’ lower legislative body already passed a bill granting President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to address the coronavirus situation in the Philippines.

With borders closed to foreigners and tens of millions of people on home quarantine, Duterte wants the power to — where necessary — control supplies and public utilities, order businesses to help government, and pull funds from state enterprises and departmental budgets to redirect into emergency health needs.

A draft of Duterte’s bill seen by Reuters seeks a “unified national policy” that would, if required, allow the government to temporarily take control of private utilities, telecoms and transport operators or businesses in the public interest, and force hotels, venues and rental properties to accommodate medical workers or quarantine facilities.

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It could also control roads, prices, supplies and distribution of power, fuel and goods like food, water, cleaning products, clothing and medical supplies, imported or made domestically.
It would also grant the treasury the ability to take back departmental funds to spend on critical or essential services.



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