The President on December 23, 2020 signed Republic Act No. 11517 or “an Act authorizing the President to expedite the processing and issuance of state and local permits, licenses, and certifications in the event of a national emergency” (“RA 11517 “).

RA 11517 covers all executive branch agencies, including departments, offices, commissions, boards, councils, government institutions, and government-owned and controlled corporations.

Under Section 2 of the Act, the President, in the event of a national emergency, shall have the power to (a) expedite and streamline regulatory processes and procedures for new and pending applications and renewals of permits, licenses , authorizations, certifications or authorizations, including fixing or shortening the time periods provided for by the laws, regulations, publications and ordinances in force; (b) suspend or waive requirements for obtaining such permits, licenses, authorizations, certifications or authorizations; and (c) prescribing as permanent streamlined regulatory processes and procedures and the suspension or waiver of requirements for obtaining permits, licenses, authorizations and certifications or authorizations, after consultation with or recommendation of government agencies concerned.

The law does not provide for automatic acceleration in the event of a national emergency but only delegates authority to the president, who must issue a corresponding order.

As an exception to this emergency acceleration, the same Section 2 of the Act specifies that it cannot be used to undermine existing procedures and processes, under applicable laws, rules and regulations, intended to protect the environment, in particular those aimed at safeguarding protected areas and their buffer zones, and ecologically critical areas.

In addition to this authority and in accordance with the Constitution, the Revised Administrative Code, other laws and case law, RA 11517 also grants the President the power to suspend or remove any government official or employee who performs acts contrary in article 2 of the law.

In accordance with its article 6, the law RA 11517 comes into force as soon as it is published in the Official Journal or in a newspaper of wide circulation.