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‘Bayanihan Act’ has sufficient safeguards to prevent abuse – Gatchalian

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has assured that the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” will have sufficient safeguards to prevent abuse and exact accountability from the Executive branch.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian

Gatchalian is referring to the measure which President Duterte signed into law Tuesday night which grants him additional powers to address the impact of the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19 and utilize available funds in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) to help the 18 million poor families that are directly affected by the enhanced community quarantine.

According to Gatchalian, Congress was able to put in place two mechanisms in the law to ensure there is accountability in the release and disbursement of funds.

One is the establishment of an congressional oversight committee that will strictly monitor the release of the funds. Two, by giving the President only three months to exercise such “special powers.”

“The Executive branch will then have to report to Congress every week to update the congressional panel on where they used the budget.

“So that is one of the check and balance we put in place,” Gatchalian said in an interview over RP1.

“Second, this is only for a limited time. The special powers given to the President is good only for three months, and if there’s a need to extend, Congress can convene again if they want to ask for an extension,” he said.

“So this is not perpetual, just for three months only. And we want this to finish within one month.

“Nobody wants this problem to persist for more than one month, but to make sure that we can contain the disease, we opted for a three-month effectivity,” he said.

Gatchalian said he hopes that with the passage of the measure into law, the Philippines can effectively control the spread of COVID-19 until the whole country is free of the disease.

“We saw how rich and more progressive countries were unable to control the virus, like in Italy, where the number of cases reached 40,000. In fact, there were more people who died there than in China, so we don’t want it to happen here,” he said.

“While cases here are still on a 500 level, we need to fight it as soon as possible because we fear that if this spreads further, it will bring our hospitals down and deplete the number of our health workers and health professionals,” Gatchalian said.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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