President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to issue a declaration of State of Public Health Emergency in the Philippines as the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases rose to six.
This was revealed by Senator Bong Go on Saturday in a message to the media.
“Pursuant to the recommendation of the DOH and my suggestion as Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to issue a declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency due to the confirmation of a local transmission of COVID-19 in our country,” said Go.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the DOH has recommended the declaration of Public Health Emergency after it raised its alert to Code Red Sub-Alert 1, confirming that the fifth COVID-19 patient was a case of local transmission.
Duque said such a declaration “will facilitate mobilization of resources and ease processes, including procurement of critical logistics and supplies and intensifying reporting and quarantine measures.”
“We are looking at Monday for the release or issuance of document that will say the President has approved our recommendation,” Duque said.
Republic Act No. 11332 defines a public health emergency as the “occurrence of an imminent threat of an illness or health condition that poses a high probability of a large number of deaths, a large number of serious injuries or long-term disabilities, widespread exposure to an infectious or toxic agent, international exposure to an infectious or toxic agent, trade and travel restrictions.”
Go said the declaration facilitates immediate access to funding to respond to the issue, particularly for the LGUs.
“Under Republic Act (RA) 10121, such declaration allows the LGUs to utilize their local disaster risk reduction management funds,” the senator said.
“The declaration eases processes on procurement, mandatory reporting, mandatory quarantine and travel restrictions, among others,” Go added.
If the President pushes through with the declaration, it will also serve as basis for possible price freeze under Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act, according to the senator.
Go also urged all citizens, residents, tourists and establishment owners to act within the bounds of the law and to comply with the lawful directives and advisories to be issued to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Go said he will also recommend to Duterte the creation of a crisis committee through an expansion of the membership of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to include other instrumentalities of the government, including Local Government Units (LGUs), to fight the possible disease spread more effectively.
“We need a whole-of-society and proactive approach in preventing further spread of the virus,” Go said.
He cited that this is consistent with DOH’s pronouncement raising the alert level to “Code Red Sub-Level 1” given the confirmation of the first case of local transmission.
“Dapat maging one step ahead tayo. Lagi dapat tayo handa. At huwag tayo magpanic,” Go said./Stacy Ang