Business groups unite for passage of 'constitutional' law to fight COVID-19


Posted at Mar 23 2020 06:38 PM

Veggies for Mandaluyong PUIs and PUMs. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Philippine government should enact a law that abides by the constitution to prevent delays in implementation in order to swiftly contain the COVID-19 pandemic, several business groups said in a joint statement released Monday.

The measure should be constitutional “and not be overly broad and over-reaching," the groups said.

“We recommend that any law that is passed by Congress should be consistent with our constitutional and legal principles and not be overly broad and over-reaching – in particular with realignment and reallocation of government and GOCC [Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporation] funds that should consider the constitutional guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court, and takeover of private enterprises – in order to avoid constitutional challenges that would delay implementation thereof,” the groups said.

Both houses of Congress are discussing President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for authority to “direct” firms in order to swiftly arrest the coronavirus pandemic.

The group suggested that the government should “consider” the following provisions:

1. Limit the law for 2 months with a clause that says any extension should be approved by Congress;

2. Authorizing the president to grant special permits and exemptions from bureaucratic requirements as necessary to avoid delays in fund use and procurement of requirements if needed;

3. Authorizing the President to adopt necessary measures to minimize disruption in supply chain, especially in basic commodities;

4. Providing rehabilitation or financing to affected businesses, especially MSMEs;

5. Supporting fund raising and assistance that the President may seek to get from other countries, multilateral organizations and capital markets.

A second bill is also suggested to cover some of the items for consideration and to provide additional funds, the groups said.

“In order to minimize the damage of COVID-19 to the people and the economy, we urge Congress to pass quickly the special law at the earliest possible time,” they said.

The joint statement was released by the:

- American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AMCHAM),
- Anvil Business Club,
- Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (ANZCHAM),
- Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP),
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CANCHAM),

- European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP),
- Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FFCCCII),
- Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce In (FICCI),
- Investment House Association of the Philippines (IHAP),
- Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI),

- Makati Business Club (MBC),
- Management Association of the Philippines (MAP),
- Microfinance Council of the Philippines (MCPI),
- Organization of Socialized Housing Developers of the Philippines (OSHDP),
- People Management Association (PMAP),

- Philippine Association of Securities Brokers and Dealers Inc (PASBDI),
- Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (Go Negosyo),
- Philippine Hotel Owners Association Inc (PHOAI),
- Semiconducter and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc (SEIPI),
- Shareholders Association of the Philippines (SHAREPHIL),

- Subdivision and Housing Developers Association (SHDA),
- Women’s Business Council Philippines (WBCP).