Biz groups back Duterte special powers but say no to ‘takeover’
MANILA, Philippines – Business groups want Duterte to have special powers that would enable him to deal with the health crisis, but they said the final law should neither be overly broad nor over-reaching.
Without criticizing the versions of the proposed bill filed in both houses of Congress, 22 business groups threw their support for a measure whose earlier versions triggered concerns of another martial law in the making.
“We express support for the immediate passage of the law,” the business groups said in a joint statement on Monday late afternoon. The bills have not yet been made into law as of press time.
Before a special session was held, an earlier version of the proposal from Malacanang had circulated online, noting how this would give President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers, such as the power to temporarily take over a privately-owned public utility.
However, the public outcry against this earlier version prompted both houses to tone down their respective bills, removing the phrase that said the president could temporarily take over businesses.
“We recommend that any law that is passed by Congress should be consistent with our constitutional and legal principles,” the business groups, comprised both of foreign and local chambers, said.
Moreover, they also said it should “not be overly broad and over-reaching,” with regards to the realignment and reallocation of government funds, and the “takeover of private enterprises.”
The groups had certain provisions they wanted to be added to the final law but noted that some of these could be included in another bill if the debate would delay the passage further.
They said the law should be limited to two months, followed by an extension granted by “an act of Congress.”
The law should authorize Duterte or his designees to grant special permits and exemptions from bureaucracy to avoid the delay in needed funds.
It should also authorize Duterte to adopt measures “as may be reasonably necessary” that would facilitate or minimize the disruption in the supply chain.
It should provide rehabilitation, financing, and/or a stimulus package that would help affected businesses, especially micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.
It should also support any assistance that Duterte may seek from other countries and multilateral organizations to raise money “if necessary,” and as long as the terms and conditions are in the “best interest of the country.”
“Some of the foregoing items can also be covered in a second bill if including them now will cause needless delay in the passage of the bill,” they said.
Should the re-allocated funds be not enough, the groups suggested pushing for another bill that would provide additional funds to address both health and economic issues arising from the outbreak.
“In order to minimize the damage of COVID-19 to the people and the economy, we urge Congress to pass quickly the special law at the earliest possible time,” they said.
These are the groups behind the joint statement:
American Chamber Of Commerce Of The Philippines (Amcham)
Anvil Business Club
Australian-New Zealand Chamber Of Commerce Philippines (Anzcham)
Bankers Association Of The Philippines (Bap)
Canadian Chamber Of Commerce Of The Philippines (Cancham)
European Chamber Of Commerce Of The Philippines (Eccp)
Federation Of Filipino Chinese Chambers Of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (Ffcccii)
Federation Of Indian Chambers Of Commerce (Phil) Inc.
Investment House Association Of The Philippines (Ihap)
Judicial Reform Initiative (Jri)
Makati Business Club (Mbc)
Management Association Of The Philippines (Map)
Microfinance Council Of The Philippines (Mcpi)
Organization Of Socialized And Economic Housing Developers Of The Philippines (Oshdp), Inc.
People Management Association Of The Philippines (Pmap)
Philippine Association Of Securities Brokers And Dealers, Inc. (Pasbdi)
Philippine Center For Entrepreneurship (Go Negosyo)
Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc.
Semiconductor And Electronics Industries In The Philippines, Inc. (Seipi)
Shareholders’ Association Of The Philippines (Sharephil)
Subdivision And Housing Developers Association, Inc. (Shda)
Women’s Business Council Philippines (Wbcp)
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