Lawmakers are now fast-tracking the passage of a bill that will give President Duterte the authority to re-allocate existing budget to fund various emergency programs, including the grant of P5,000 to P8,000 to 18 million families to tide them over the enhanced community quarantine.
These 18 million families are those belonging to the so-called informal sector, or those considered poor and with “no work – no pay” types of livelihood.
Both houses of Congress held special sessions starting on Monday (March 23) to speed up the passage of the emergency powers bill.
The House version of the bill, if passed, will allow President Duterte to gather about P275 billion from the unused 2019 budget and 2020 national appropriations.
Around P200 billion will go to the cash subsidy for the 18 million families. The Philippines is estimated to have about 22 million families.
The remaining P75 billion will go to other expenditures, including the purchase or medical equipment and goods that will allow the health sector to better combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The bill will also empower the President to direct private hospitals and hotels to operate under the direction of the government in managing COVID-19.
Duterte has already approved the grant of hazard pay to government personnel that are still reporting for work despite the lockdown. Administrative Order No. 26 grants a maximum of P500 daily hazard pay to them.
“Government employees and workers engaged through contract of service (COS) or job order (JO), whose services are urgently necessary and who physically report for work during the period of the Enhanced Community Quarantine are inevitably exposed to health risks and hazards,” Duterte said in his order.