House approves bill granting anti-red tape powers to Duterte

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The House of Representatives on Friday approved on final reading 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.

During the last day of its special session, 267 lawmakers voted to approve House Bill No. 7884, which would grant Duterte anti-red tape powers, on second reading.

Six lawmakers, meanwhile, voted against the measure.

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