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Senators: No need for special powers

/ 05:40 AM September 04, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senators saw no need to grant President  Rodrigo Duterte special powers to address the corruption and mismanagement issues at Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) because the President has enough powers and there are already enough laws to deal with the matter, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Thursday.

“Anything that they would want the President to do, he can do now even without emergency powers. That is what we believe,” Sotto said over CNN Philippines, adding that he does not know what was exactly in the House proposal.

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Sen. Francis Pangilinan agreed that emergency powers were not needed, and what must be done is to replace Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who also sits as chair of its board.

“If they are serious in fixing PhilHealth and addressing COVID-19, [they should] fire Duque and file cases against those involved in the overpricing of test kits and testing machines, and the billions pocketed from PhilHealth by the Mindanao mafia. That is the solution, not emergency powers,” Pangilinan said in a statement.

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He also said local government units were able to do their jobs amid the crisis without needing emergency powers.

Sen. Sonny Angara said the proposal was not outside the realm of possibility, but the proposal must be studied well.

Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, on the other hand, said Duterte has enough powers under the Constitution and prevailing laws to address the problems.

“There is no use for emergency powers. We will oppose it in the Senate. The President can reform and reorganize PhilHealth without emergency powers from Congress,” Drilon said in a statement.

He pointed out that the President appoints the members of the PhilHealth board and could file administrative and criminal cases against them. He could order the suspension and transfer of personnel in the executive branch as well.

The GOCC Governance Act, or Republic Act No. 10149, also gives the Chief Executive powers to reform and organize government-owned and controlled-corporations (GOCCs) through the Governance Council for GOCCs, he said.

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TAGS: Philhealth, Rodrigo Duterte, Senate, Senate President Tito Sotto, special powers
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