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President Rodrigo Duterte Signs R.A. No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan To Heal As One Act” to Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic

On 25 March 2020, the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” (RA 11469), which declares a state of national emergency over the entire Philippines and grants certain powers to the Chief Executive to allow for greater flexibility in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, was signed into law.

For a period of three (3) months, extendible by Congress, the President can undertake emergency measures needed to contain the transmission of COVID-19, aid the families or individuals affected by the pandemic, and implement programs for recovery and rehabilitation.

In particular, the President can provide a monthly emergency subsidy of P5,000.00 to P8,000.00 for two (2) months to around 18 million low income households. He can also streamline the accreditation of testing kits and facilitate prompt testing of any Person Under Investigation (PUI) and Person Under Monitoring (PUM). Notwithstanding the Government Procurement Reform Act (RA No. 9184) and other procurement regulations, he can likewise hasten the acquisition of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medical equipment and supplies, and other goods and services for social amelioration measures. Whenever necessary, he can also direct the construction and operation of temporary medical facilities, including leasing real properties for such purpose and purchase of telecommunication facilities for use in such temporary medical facilities.

The law likewise authorizes the President to direct the operation of any private hospitals and medical facilities, passenger vessels, and other establishments to house health workers or serve as quarantine centers or temporary medical facilities. In addition, the President can require businesses to prioritize and accept fair and reasonable contracts for material and services needed to manage the pandemic.

Aside from acquiring PPE’s for the front liners, the law provides for a safety net to both private and public health workers. Public health workers are entitled to a “COVID-19 special risk allowance” in addition to their hazard pay under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers (RA 7305). The President can likewise direct the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to shoulder all medical expenses of public and private health workers in case of exposure to COVID-19 or any work-related injury or disease during the duration of the emergency.

In the event that a public or private health worker contracts severe COVID-19 infection while on duty, he/she will receive compensation of P100,000.00. In the unfortunate event that a health worker dies while fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the said health worker’s heirs shall be given a compensation of P1,000,000.00. The foregoing amounts will be applied retroactively from 01 February 2020.

The President is also given authority to engage temporary Human Resources for Health (HRH) such as medical and allied medical staff in order to augment the depleting number of health workers and hire additional manpower to run the temporary medical facilities. The HRH shall receive compensation and allowances including actual hazard duty pay from the government.

The availability of essential goods, especially food and medicine, during the period of national emergency is vital in the success of the community quarantine. The President is therefore authorized to adopt measures that will minimize disruption to the supply chain such as the regulation of all modes of transportation and traffic on all roads, streets, and bridges. The law also allows him to regulate the distribution of energy, fuel, and water to ensure adequate supply.

To provide funds in support of the foregoing actions, the President can reallocate or realign funds from savings on other items of appropriation in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) of the executive department. Moreover, the President is authorized to allocate cash, funds, investments, including unutilized or unreleased subsidies and transfers held by any Government Owned and Controlled Corporation (GOCC) or any national government agency, toward efforts to combat the effects of COVID-19.

The exercise of these additional powers will be monitored by a Joint Congressional Oversight Committee composed of four (4) members of each congressional house who will determine whether the President’s acts or orders are within the restrictions provided in the said law. As such, the President is required to submit every Monday a report to Congress of all acts performed under the subject law for the immediately preceding week.

Click here to read the full text of RA 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act”.

Click to read the related article Pag-IBIG’s Three-Month Moratorium of Pag-IBIG Fund on all Pag-IBIG Fund Loan Payments Covering 16 March 2020 – 15 June 2020.

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