Anti-red tape powers for Duterte eyed before House special session adjourns

Anti-red tape powers for Duterte eyed before House special session adjourns

MANILA, Philippines — House leaders said Thursday they will work on passing the bill authorizing President Rodrigo Duterte to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications in times of national emergency.

They plan to pass the bill before the adjournment of the special session on October 16.

This came after several House lawmakers—including newly-installed Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez—filed on Wednesday night House Bill No. 7884 which grants Duterte anti-red tape powers.

“Upon the directive of the President and the instruction of Speaker Velasco, the House of Representatives will work on the passage of the anti-red tape measure before we adjourn the special session,” Romualdez said in a statement.

Under House Bill No. 7884, the President is given authority to accelerate and streamline regulatory processes and procedures for new and pending applications and renewals of permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations.

The President is also given the power to suspend or waive the requirements in securing such permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorization.

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

However, the bill states that the authority given to the President “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.”

The bill further states that has the power to suspend or remove any government official or employee performing acts contrary to the measure.

“The economic landscape of the country has drastically changed by reason of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its impact on the different sectors is beyond measure and the government’s role is to lessen the burden to its people,” the bill states.

“One of the strategic measures is to reduce transaction costs in all government agencies and provide an efficient delivery of its services while maintaining integrity and accountability in government service and the promotion of transparency in the transactions of the government with the public, encompassing a program for the adoption of simplified requirements and procedures,” it adds.

The has already approved on third and final reading its version of the measure shortly after Duterte certified its passage as urgent.