House moves to grant Duterte anti-red tape powers

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 16 2020 10:14 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on October 14, 2020. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo

MANILA - House members on Friday moved to grant President Rodrigo Duterte anti-red tape powers, with 267 lawmakers approving and 6 others rejecting the authorization.

Duterte earlier certified as urgent House Bill 7884, or the Anti-Red Tape bill, which the lower chamber approved on 3rd and final reading. Due to the urgency, the House was able to ratify the legislation without waiting for 3 days after it was approved on 2nd reading.

The House was constituted into a Committee of the Whole earlier Friday, pursuant to Rule XIX, Section 140 and 141 of the rules of the House in order to consider House Bills 7831, 7880, 7882 and 7884 which all seek to authorize the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits and certifications in times of National Emergency.

The committee was chaired by Deputy Speaker Michael Romero with Pampanga Rep. Rimpy Bondoc as the floor leader. Pangasinan Rep. Tyrone Agabas delivered the sponsorship speech for the 4 bills.

The Committee of the Whole House approved without amendment HB No. 7884 in consolidation with HB Nos. 7831, 7880 and 7882, the Report of which was submitted in Plenary.

The plenary subsequently approved the bill on 2nd reading.

House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Thursday vowed to immediately pass on third and final reading the bill granting anti-red tape powers to Duterte, immediately after the House received the letter of certification from Malacañang.

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Upon the instruction of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Romualdez said the House of Representatives will act according to the desire of the President to streamline the issuance of licenses and permits during national emergencies

Romualdez, chairman of the powerful House Committee on Rules, said the measure is in support of Duterte’s directives for efficient coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) response.

Last Wednesday, Velasco and Romualdez led the filing of House Bill (HB) No. 7884 or An Act Authorizing the President to Expedite the Processing and Issuance of National and Local Permits, Licenses, and Certifications to accelerate the country’s socioeconomic recovery and ensure an effective government response to the present health crisis.

Under Section 2 of the measure, President Duterte will have authority to suspend requirements for national and local permits, licenses and certifications, and to streamline and expedite the process of issuance.

The bill covers all agencies of the Executive branch, including departments, bureaus, offices, commissions, boards, councils; government instrumentalities, government owned and controlled corporations.

The proposed measure also empowers the President to fix or shorten the periods for the processing and release of these documents.

The bill also grants the President the power to suspend or waive the requirements in securing such permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations.

In consultation with or upon the recommendation of the affected government agencies, HB 7884 may prescribe the permanent streamlining of regulatory processes and procedures, and the suspension or waiver of the requirements in securing the documents.

But Section 2 of the proposed legislation shall not be used to “undermine the existing procedures and processes, under applicable laws, rules and regulations, meant to protect the environment, especially those that aim to safeguard protected areas and its buffer zones, and environmentally critical areas.”

Under Section 3 of the measure, the President has the power to suspend or remove, any government official or employee performing acts contrary to the measure consistent with Article VII Sections 1 and 17 of the Constitution, the Revised Administrative Code, other existing laws, and jurisprudence.