Sotto says no Duterte request for grant of emergency powers amid COVID-19 crisis
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III denied on Sunday reports that President Rodrigo Duterte had allegedly asked Congress to grant him emergency powers to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis.
“Not true. Read the title (of the bill). Nothing there says emergency powers,” Sotto said in a text message when asked if Duterte had asked Congress for emergency powers in a letter sent to him by Malacañang.
Congress is scheduled to hold a special session on Monday to pass a bill that will allow Duterte to realign funds from the available budget to cushion the impact of the pandemic on Filipino families whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic.
Asked categorically if the letter was asking for emergency powers for the President, Sotto said: “Perhaps [it’s about] one controversial provision in the bill about takeover of businesses but that won’t fly in the Senate.”
Asked if it was wrong to assume that the draft bill is seeking to grant Duterte special powers, Sotto said: “Yes, absolutely wrong, because that was precisely my point in the meeting yesterday that this is not an emergency powers bill. We agreed that it is not.”
Duterte had earlier declared a state of calamity after a spike in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.
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