Duterte to gov’t agencies: Set new rules to address Covid-19 crisis

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered all government offices to set new rules on their respective policies to ease the social and economic burden of the public amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in the country.

On April 21, Duterte signed Administrative Order (AO) 30 which mandates the adjustments of statutory deadlines and timelines for the filing of any public documents; payment of taxes and other fees; grant of benefits; and scheduled proceedings.

The fresh order covers all state departments, agencies, offices, and instrumentalities, including government-owned and -controlled corporations, government financial institutions, state universities and colleges, and local government units.

Under AO 30, all government offices are directed to issue guidelines on the interruption of reglementary periods for the commencement of actions and claims; the filing of pleadings, appearances, motions, notices, and all other papers; and the rendition of judgments, resolutions, and orders amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

They are also ordered to set rules on the rescheduling of proceedings after the lifting of ECQ, as well as on the acceptable justifications for the failure of litigants or their counsel to appear at legal proceedings.

AO 30 also requires state departments and offices to issue guidelines on the suspension of deadlines for the payment of monetary obligations and on the movement of timelines for the grant of any benefit during the ECQ period.

“Reglementary period and proceedings for urgent cases with are necessary to enable the government to act expeditiously on matters affecting the current public health emergency shall not be interrupted or cancelled,” the order read.

Duterte’s latest directive is applicable to areas where ECQ was declared.

Heads of agencies are told to ensure that their rules or guidelines are consistent with the directives of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Office of the President.

The rules and guidelines must also be in compliance with existing laws, rules and regulations.

“Such rules or guidelines shall be without prejudice to future directives or orders to be issued by the IATF or the Office of the President, pursuant to RA (Republic Act) No. 11469,” AO 30 said.

AO 30 also orders the adoption of all recent issuances released by government agencies with regard to the extension, interruption or movement of the periods and timelines set for the filing of documents, conduct of proceedings, payment of taxes and other charges, and the grant of benefits.

All heads of departments, agencies, offices, and instruments of the national government are encouraged to provide “relevant and timely” recommendations to the IATF-EID with regards to the implementation of AO 30.

AO 30 also enjoins other government branches and independent constitutional bodies to formulate and issue their own rules or guidelines.

“All issuances, orders, rules and regulations or parts thereof which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Order are hereby repealed or modified accordingly,” AO 30 read.

AO 30, which was released by the Palace on Wednesday, takes effect immediately following its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

The entire Luzon and other parts of Visayas and Mindanao have been placed under ECQ to stop the further spread of Covid-19 in the country.

On March 24, Duterte signed RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which authorizes him to wield special powers to impose measures aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. (Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, PNA)