Along with Zubiri, the bill was principally authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Pro Temp. Ralph Recto, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
“As the sponsor and author of the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, it pains me to see how bureaucratic red tape continues to persist, even now, in the middle of this pandemic,” Zubiri said in his sponsorship speech, before detailing how red tape has hampered COVID-19 response, such as the delivery of goods and services.
In particular, he brought up the problem in telecommunications infrastructure, saying, “the construction of infrastructures such as communication towers has become highly necessary for the country, as millions have moved to a work-from-home setup, and as classes move online as well.”
While the Bayanihan II has provisions allowing the President to expedite the processing of requirements for telecommunications infrastructure and technology during this time, Senate Bill No. 1844 will address the general issue of red tape by granting the President temporary powers to expedite the processing of all national and local permits, licenses, and certifications in times of national emergency.
The bill has garnered strong bipartisan support, with a number of senators manifesting their co-authorship and/or co-sponsorship, including Sens. Bong Revilla, Bong Go, Bato dela Rosa, Manny Pacquiao, Pia Cayetano, Joel Villanueva, and Richard Gordon.
This measure comes at the heels of President Rodrigo Duterte’s national address the prior week, where he threatened to resign over his frustrations regarding the continued prevalence of corruption in the country.
To this end, SBN 1844 reiterates the President’s authority to suspend or remove erring government officials or employees as provided under the measure. “Which is really in his powers, under the Constitution,” Zubiri pointed out. (PIA NCR)
By Jerome Carlo R. Paunan