Press Release
June 2, 2020

To prevent abuses and inequity
Drilon assures Bayanihan Law no longer punitive

A Senate panel sponsoring a new version of the Bayanihan law adopted Monday an amendment proposed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon that would repeal the punitive provision of the Bayanihan law amid alarming reports of abuses and discrimination in the implementation of Republic Act 11469 that granted the President emergency powers to address the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Drilon welcomed the Senate Committee on Finance's adoption of his proposal to repeal Section 6 of RA 11469 that punishes various offenses with imprisonment of two months or a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P1 million, or both, to be determined by the court.

"I thank the Senate Committee on Finance chaired by Sen. Sonny Angara for adopting my amendment to repeal Section 6 of the Bayanihan law given what we saw as serious cases of abuses and inequity in the implementation of the law," Drilon said in a statement on Tuesday.

The senate minority leader noted that no member of the Senate opposed the proposal during the deliberation of the measure Monday.

He also noted that even the Philippine National Police, through Gen. Archie Gamboa, did not oppose the proposed repeal of Section 6.

"I expect it to be approved unanimously by the Senate. The repeal of Section 6 will not affect the intent and objectives of the law, which is a health measure more than anything else," Drilon said.

Drilon assured that the new Bayanihan Law (Bayanihan to Recover as one Act) will not have such punitive provision.

Drilon added that "the repeal of Section 6 will avoid the notion that the Bayanihan Law is anti-poor because it is the poor and the vulnerable that are victims of the inquity in its implementation."

Section 6 of RA 11469 enumerated several acts considered illegal and are punishable under the act with imprisonment of two months or a fine of not less than P10,000 but not more than P1 million, or both, to be determined by the court.

These include (1) LGU officials disobeying national government policies; (2) hospital owners who refuse to operate in accordance with the directive of the President; (3) hoarding, profiteering, price manipulation, product deceptions, cartels, etc.; (4) refusal to prioritize and accept essential contracts for materials and services; (5) refusal to provide grace periods to loan payments; (6) spread of fake news; and (7) failure to comply with reasonable limitations on the operation of certain transportation sector.

Meanwhile, Drilon commended business community for calling for the fair and impartial implementation of the quarantine rules and the Bayanihan law.

"I laud and thank the business community for the vigilance they are exhibiting for calling for the fair and impartial implementation of the Bayanihan law. It cannot be denied that there are inequality and discminination in the implementation of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which I hope the Congress can remedy by deleting Section 6 of the law," Drilon said.

In a joint statement over the weekend, eight business organizations in the country said: "Many of those arrested suffered detention, costs, humiliation, and inconveniences, and some endured unwarranted jailtime when unopened courts or government offices, or even limited bank branches, could not process their bail in a timely manner."

Drilon said he agreed with the statement, adding "that the poor are prejudiced in the implementation of RA 11469."

Drilon said that the acts enumerated in Section 6 are already punishable under existing laws.

For instance, the Bayanihan Law punishes those engaged in hoarding, profiteering, injurious speculations, manipulation of prices, product deceptions, and cartels. The same crimes are punished under Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act, and RA 9502 or the Universally Accessible and Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act.

In the case of individuals or groups creating, perpetuating or spreading false information regarding COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, Drilon said RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Law is applicable.

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