The Senate has approved on third and final reading the bill that seeks to grant the President of the Philippines the power to expedite the processing and issuance of permits and licenses during national emergencies.
Senate Bill No. 1844 was first on the agenda of the chamber for its plenary session after President Duterte certified the measure as urgent.
Duterte, in his letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, said the measure would “facilitate economic activity, accelerate the socioeconomic recovery of the country and ensure the prompt delivery of public services in times of a national emergency such as the present COVID-19 pandemic.”
The bill, once signed into law, would authorize the President to further streamline process for issuance of national and local permits, licenses, and certifications during a national emergency.
He shall also have the power to suspend or waive the need to secure of such documents from all agencies under the Executive Branch, as well as government-owned and controlled corporations and local government units.
Before its second reading approval last Monday, SB No. 1844 was amended to likewise authorize allow the President to make permanent the streamlined regulatory processes and procedures, as well as the suspension of the requirement, in consultation or upon the recommendation of concerned government agencies.
The proposed authority, however, “shall not undermine” existing procedures and applicable laws that are “meant to protect the environment, especially those that aim to safeguard protected areas and its buffer zones, and environmentally critical areas.”
The bill also reiterates the President’s authority to suspend or remove erring government officials or employees as provided for under the measure.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, who is co-author and co-sponsor of the measure, lauded the passage of the bill in the Senate, saying that swifter and more efficient conduct of government transactions during times of national emergencies can also set a benchmark to improve government processes even during normal times.
“Kung magawa nating mas mapabilis ang proseso in times of national emergencies dahil sa batas na ito, subukan na rin nating gawing kasing bilis, mas maayos, at mas maaasahan ang serbisyo ng gobyerno sa kahit anumang panahon (If we can expedite bureaucratic processes in times of national emergencies because of this measure, let us then try to hasten, further improve, and make more reliable government services at any time),” Go said.
During his manifestation of support for the measure, Go congratulated his fellow lawmakers for the passage of the bill.
“I just want to congratulate and thank Senate President Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Recto, Senator Ping Lacson, Big Brother Minority Leader Sen. [Franklin] Drilon and, of course, our Majority Leader and sponsor of the bill, our small brother, Sen. [Juan Miguel] Zubiri, for heeding President Duterte’s call to take necessary steps to curb corruption and simplify the requirements and steps in doing business in our country,” Go said.
“The measure is important to President Duterte, reason he certified it as urgent. It is also my honor to be a co-author and co-sponsor of this bill,” he added. Go also lauded the Senate for being united in support of the administration’s fight against red tape and corruption in the bureaucracy.
“I also thank all our colleagues, lahat (all), for fully supporting this measure. We may be on different sides of the fence about certain issues, but on this important legislation, we are united.
“And may our campaign against corruption in government continue,” said Go.
Go expressed hope that this is the start of real change in how government delivers public services. He also encouraged Filipinos to help in the efforts to improve public service delivery by reporting wrongdoings or inefficiencies they experience in government processes.
“Know your rights and demand the best public service,” he reminded.