Malacañang said Wednesday President Rodrigo Duterte needs emergency powers again to expedite purchases to continue the government’s COVID-19 response.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque released the statement as the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which first granted Duterte emergency powers, is set to expire on Thursday, June 25.
“For now, we have everything that we need. Of course, we would need to have emergency powers again because it takes forever to comply with the Procurement Act for purposes of emergency medical purchases,” Roque said in an interview over ANC.
“The most important power we can no longer exercise is the purchase of COVID, medical-related materials. And so far, I think we’re in good shape,” he added.
Roque said the country already received one million personal protective equipment out of the eight million it placed a bid for.
The Spokesperson added the ventilators the government has purchased were also being distributed to medical facilities.
“So I think for the immediate future, I think we already have what we need,” Roque said.
“I guess the problem will be in the medium term when the equipment we have on storage will be used up,” he went on.
Roque is also positive that the Executive branch and both houses of Congress would soon agree on the post-COVID-19 economic stimulus package.
The Palace official earlier said the administration prefers a stimulus package that the Philippines could afford and does not require “too much borrowing.”
“I’m confident that time will come that the Executive and both houses of Congress can agree on something, and we can then ask Congress to hold a special session,” Roque said.
Also read: Gov’t gets P22.5 billion loan from ADB for 4Ps
Meanwhile, the Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said the Philippines has money, but its spending capability is limited by what the legislators have approved under the law. The official explained why Duterte keeps on saying the country is running out of money for COVID-19.
“In government kasi, in government, you have cash, and you have budget. Even though we have the cash, we can only spend what the legislator allows us to spend, so we have a budget,” Dominguez said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual forum.