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Business groups back special law to prevent spread of COVID-19

Major business groups on Tuesday welcomed the passage by the House of Representatives of the “Bayanihan Act of 2020” and its counterpart bill in the Senate known as “We Heal as One Act” that are specially designed to help the country aggressively combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We express support for the immediate passage of the law,” the groups said in a joint statement.

Among the groups that signed the joint statement of support for the special law are the Management Association of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, People Management Association of the Philippines, Bankers Association of the Philippines, Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc., Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. and different foreign chambers of commerce.

“We commit ourselves to continue working with the government to fight COVID-19 with the assets and facilities at our disposal and, with proper consideration for their safety, with our manpower, starting from our managers. We commit to continue to support the health workers and medical establishments at the frontline of the war,” they said.

The organizations said that any law passed by Congress should be consistent with constitutional and legal principles, and not be overly broad and over-reaching.

It said the realignment and reallocation of government and GOCC funds should consider the constitutional guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court, and take-over of private enterprises in order to avoid constitutional challenges that would delay its implementation.

The groups suggested that the government limit the duration of the law to two months and any extension should be by an act of Congress.

They proposed that Congress authorize the president or his designees to grant special permits and exemptions from bureaucratic requirements under existing laws and regulations as may be reasonably necessary to avoid delay in the deployment or utilization of the funds and procurement of needed requirements.

The groups said the law contain provisions authoring the president to adopt measures as may be reasonably necessary to facilitate and/or minimize disruption to the supply chain, especially for basic commodities and services to the maximum extent possible;

At the same time, they pushed for rehabilitation, special financing programs and/or stimulus package to help businesses, especially MSMEs, that are adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help them pay workers to remain quarantined and, when the pandemic is under control, to rehire and resume normal operations.

The groups said the provisions of the law should also support any fund raising or other forms of assistance that the president may seek to get from foreign countries, multilateral organizations and the capital markets.

They said other items can be covered in a second bill as including them now will cause needless delay in the passage of the bill.

“Cognizant that the re-allocated or re-aligned funds from government agencies and GOCCs may not be sufficient for the foregoing purposes, a second bill may provide additional funds to address both health and economic issues,” the groups said.

Topics: Business groups , House of Representatives , Bayanihan Act of 2020 , Senate , We Heal as One Act , coronavirus disease 2019 , COVID-19
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