Senate leaders bat for Presidential power to waive biz permit requirements during national emergencies

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2020 12:58 PM

Business permit inspectors check permits in an office in Makati City on November 9, 2017. Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA— Senate leaders have filed a bill seeking to allow the President to suspend "requirements for the issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certificates" to businesses during national emergencies to ensure fast transactions during calamities.

Senate Bill No. 1844 was jointly authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

"We need to make sure that business activities do not freeze when a national emergency in the scale of the COVID-19 pandemic happen in the future," Sotto said in a statement. 

"We cannot afford a stagnant economy during times when we are struggling against the devastating effects of a public health crisis or a natural or man-made catastrophe," he said.

Under the proposed measure, the President, in times of national emergency, have the power to:

  • accelerate and streamline regulatory processes and procedures for new and pending applications for permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations
  • fix or shorten the periods provided for these permits
  • suspend or waive the requirements in securing such permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations

The President will also be authorized to "suspend or remove" any government official who is "performing acts contrary" to the provisions of the measure.

"While this may be a small step, it surely can create a significant impact on all enterprises," Sotto said.

"This Act could be one of the needed breathers of crumbling enterprises, and ultimately, this will redound to the benefit of our economy and encourage investors to capitalize in the country," he said.

The bill was filed on September 20, 2020, a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte met with Congress leaders in Malacañang to ask for a measure that would address red tape and corruption in government.