‘I am not without power’: Duterte mulls gov’t takeover of hotels in case of shortage of hospital beds

Published April 15, 2021, 10:48 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government can exercise its police power and take over hotels if the country will suffer a shortage of hospital beds during the pandemic, President Duterte declared Thursday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on April 15, 2021. (KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/MANILA BULLETIN)

The President, however, recognized that such takeover of private establishments to serve as temporary health facilities was not a “remedy desired in a democratic state.”

The latest statement from the President assuring government’s readiness to augment health facilities came as the country’s cases of coronavirus soared past 900,000 Thursday.  The country has seen an alarming rise in cases of infections and deaths in recent days, prompting authorities to implement tough movement curbs to slow down the coronavirus transmission.

“I can even use the power of the police power of the state. You know what? I can order the authorities to take over the operations of hotels kung wala na talagang mga kama. Madali iyan. Hindi talaga problema ‘yan (if there will be no more available beds. That’s easy. That won’t really be a problem),” Duterte said in a televised address Thursday, April 15.

“I am not without power. When we are pushed to the wall, either by the microbe itself or by external, internal, I can always order the military and police to go there and confiscate the operations of the hotels,” he added.

A government takeover of warehouses of medicines is also an option, according to the President.

“Even the medicines, I can go to the warehouse there but that is not really what you call a remedy desired in a democratic state,” he said.

If Health Secretary Francisco Duque III or vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. would inform him the country’s health system has reached “critical condition” where doctors and nurses have no more space to move, Duterte said: “Then we begin to exercise the police power of the State” to take over the hotels.

He told hotel owners that the government would clean and disinfect the establishments after use. “I will clean it up, spic and span. I will decontaminate everything there like to its former glory,” he added.

Duterte also assured the nation that the government was working to improve the health facilities and ease the pandemic on the people. At the same time, he said Galvez was focused on securing the country’s additional vaccine supplies despite the world’s limited stocks.

“We are not really at a total loss on what to do. We know what to do,” the President said.

Duterte claimed that there were some “noisy” people who wanted to be heard but “there was no time to hear everyone.” “We do not have the luxury of time,” he added.

As the country battles the pandemic, Duterte acknowledged that things would get worse “before it gets better.” But the President told people “not to be afraid,” saying the government continued to work to address the health emergency.

“The government is busy doing everything, not nothing. Government is trying to get the things to fix all of us,” he said.