Congress has responded to the call of the times by passing the bill entitled “Bayanihan To Heal As One Act” granting stand-by powers to the President to carry out effectively the national policy of stopping the spread of the coronavirus virus disease (COVID-19) which has endangered the lives of the Filipino people.
There is an urgent need to implement measures that will help address the health scare brought about by the spread of COVID-19 in our land. They include the effective detection of the virus among the populace, prompt testing by health facilities of patients, protection and access to transportation in favor of our health workers who are at the frontline of this battle, maintenance of availability and pricing of essential and basic commodities for consumers, and provision thereof to those belonging to the vulnerable sectors of society, among others.
The Bayanihan to Heal as One Act is a response to such urgent need, the swift and efficient implementation of which will secure the success of the measures established by the national government in eradicating the threat to our national survival.
The bill authorizes the President for the immediate implementation of measures for the effective education, detection, protection, and treatment of our people versus COVID-19; expediting the accreditation of testing kits and facilitating the prompt testing by public and designated private institutions; providing allowance or compensation and shouldering medical expenses in favor of public and private health workers; directing establishments to house health workers, serve as quarantine areas, or relief and aid distribution locations, as well as public transportation to ferry health, emergency, and frontline personnel; ensuring the availability of essential goods, in particular food and medicine, and protecting the people from illegal and pernicious practices affecting the supply, distribution and movement of certain essential items; directing the extension of statutory deadlines for the filing of government requirements and setting grace periods for payment of loans and rents; and providing subsidy to low-income households and implementing an expanded and enhanced Pantawid Pamilya Program.
The proposed statute directs the Executive Branch to issue periodic reports of its implementation of necessary interventions to combat this pandemic. The Filipino people are assured that the powers granted the President shall be enforced strictly in accordance with the Constitution. The grant of powers is for a limited period and subject to the restrictions contained therein.
Once again, we urge our countrymen to be wary of rumors and false news designed to create panic and confusion propagated by the enemies of peace and order.
Salvador S. Panelo
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel
& Presidential Spokesperson