Philippine president seeks more powers vs Covid-19

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MANILA (Philippine Star) — President Rodrigo Duterte wants to declare a state of national emergency and is asking Congress, which is dominated by his allies, to grant him additional powers to cope with the coronavirus disease 2019 or Covid-19.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during an Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases meeting against the new coronavirus at the presidential palace in Manila on Thursday.  AP

But the administration said Duterte is not seeking “emergency powers,” adding that a proposal to allow the state’s takeover of private firms for quarantine and related purposes came from Congress.

Duterte is also turning to prayer to fight the contagion.

In Proclamation 934 that he signed on Saturday, Duterte declared the fourth week of March as a National Week of Prayer against Covid-19.

In the proclamation, the president said the state recognizes the religious nature of Filipinos and the “vital role of faith in bringing about peace, solidarity, compassion and heroism in times of adversity.”

“During the aforesaid week, I urge all Filipinos of all faiths, religious traditions and backgrounds to unite our hearts in prayer as we face the Covid-19 threat, fixing our eyes on the Almighty in this time of affliction,” Duterte said.

The president urged the public to pray for the recovery of people who are suffering from Covid-19, for the comfort of those who have lost loves ones, and for the protection of all, especially the most vulnerable sectors of society.

“Pray also for strength and endurance for our outstanding medical professionals and health workers on the frontlines, your military and law enforcement officers, the government officials and personnel dealing with the present threat and all Filipinos who are working tirelessly to protect our communities, sacrificing their lives in the service of the country,” Duterte said.

“Through prayer, let us, as one nation, find strength to defeat this invisible enemy, with the aid and blessing of God,” he added.

The Philippines had 380 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 25 deaths as of Sunday.

The pandemic has prompted Duterte to place the entire northern island of Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine from March 17 to April 13.