Malacañang to continue submitting reports on Duterte’s special powers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 7) — Malacañang will continue submitting reports on the use of President Rodrigo Duterte’s special powers to address the COVID-19 crisis, even as some senators raised concerns that the law granting the chief executive additional powers had already expired.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines on Sunday that they will continue submitting weekly reports to Congress until June 25, exactly three months after the law was enacted.

Roque had earlier contended that the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which gave Duterte 30 special powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic, will only expire three months after the measure became law.

This is contrary to what some senators raised during Thursday’s Senate session — that the Bayanihan law had expired, following the Constitution.

Article VI, Section 23(2) of the Constitution states that Congress can grant the president for a limited period special powers in times of war or other national emergencies. These powers will continue to be exercised by the president until the next adjournment of Congress unless the legislature withdraws it sooner.

Congress did not manage to extend Duterte’s special powers beyond this month as it adjourned on Friday without passing a new law for the extension of the special powers.

The Senate waited for Malacanang to certify as urgent the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act but Roque said it decided not to.

Still, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto expects the executive branch to submit what would be its 11th report on Duterte’s special powers.

“I’m sure they will submit. Congress was not in session when they started submitting them,” Sotto told CNN Philippines.

Among the powers granted to Duterte under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act include the ability to rechannel funding within the executive department towards the government’s COVID-19 response.

The law also grants a ₱5,000 to ₱8,000 subsidy to 18 million poor families for two months, and compensation for health workers who contract and die of COVID-19.

It also mandates Duterte to submit a weekly report to Congress on the use of his special powers.