By Hannah Torregoza
Malacañang is seeking the declaration of the existence of a national emergency due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), and the granting of emergency powers to President Duterte.
This was part of a draft letter signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to Senate President Vicente Sotto III as the Senate and the House of Representatives is set to meet Monday to discuss the bill that would provide additional budget to aid the government in combatting the effects of the COVID-19.
But Senate President Vicente Sotto III denied that the President had allegedly asked Congress for emergency powers, saying there was nothing in the title of the proposed measure signifying the Chief Executive is asking for such.
“Not true. Read the title (of the bill). Nothing there says emergency powers,” Sotto said when asked about the letter supposedly signed by Medialdea.
Congress is scheduled to hold a special session on Monday to pass a bill that would allow Duterte to realign funds from available budget to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 in the economy and help Filipino families and workers affected by the enhanced community quarantine.
Sotto said that perhaps, one controversial provision of the bill, about takeover of businesses “but that won’t fly in the Senate.”
According to Sotto, lawmakers during their meeting with Malacanang on Saturday agreed that the measure they will tackle in the Special Session “is not an emergency powers bill.”
“We agreed that it is not,” Sotto said.
Earlier, Duterte declared a state of calamity after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased in the country.