Senators working on giving Duterte new powers to ease gov't transactions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19) — Senators are drafting a bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte authority to expedite government transactions amid the pandemic.

Duterte met with Congress leaders early this week requesting for amendments to the Ease of Doing Business Act to further reduce or eliminate bureaucratic red tape.

In a statement on Saturday, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson said lawmakers have agreed “it would be more practical and expeditious” to pass another law to shorten government process while the country is under a state of health emergency.

Lacson, one of the authors of the anti-red tape law, said this consensus was reached Friday night in a meeting led by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.

“When the final draft is approved by at least the majority of the senators in a caucus, SP Sotto will present the same to the chief executive as well as the leaders of the (House of Representatives) so we can pass the corresponding legislation,” Lacson said.

In a separate statement, Senator Miguel “Migz” Zubiri said the planned measure would be like giving Duterte “anti-red tape emergency powers” to cut short the processing time for permits and licenses and waive some requirements.

Under Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, applications or requests should be processed within three workings days for "simple transactions" and up to seven days for complex ones. A longer period is allowed when the processes involve more government offices or highly technical processes.

Duterte recently signed the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, which allows him to exercise additional powers necessary for pandemic response and recovery. It also sets aside ₱165.5 billion for additional health spending as well as assistance to sectors hard hit by the global COVID-19 crisis.

The President has also issued a proclamation extending the national state of calamity for one more year, or until September 2021, citing the continued rise in coronavirus infections.