There remains a possibility that the Department of Health (DOH) will recommend extending the Covid-19 State of Calamity in the country if the Public Health Emergency bill is not signed by December.
“Kapag hindi naipasa iyan by December, yun pong options natin is first (If that is not passed by December, our first option is)--to request, of course, to the Office of the President an extension of the State of Calamity,” said DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire in a press briefing on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
“The option really is for us to extend the State of Calamity,” she added.
Last Nov. 11, Vergeire said that the DOH is pushing for the passage of the Public Health Emergency bill in order for the government to continue various measures under the State of Calamity, in case such a declaration will be lifted—amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This includes the continuation of the vaccination program, procurement of vaccines and other logistics, and the provision of benefits for health workers.
“We are giving our best together with the House of Representatives and senators also para maipasa talaga bago matapos ang taon (so that it can be passed before the end of the year),” said Vergeire.
When asked if the government would just consider local government units to declare a State of Calamity in their respective jurisdictions, Vergeire said they are not considering this as an option.
“I don't think that is going to address the issue kasi ang issue natin ay national because the issue here is national): national procurement, national office issuing emergency authority for va=ccines. So, that would not be an option for us,” said the Health official.
There were also suggestions to just merge the Public Health Emergency bill to another proposed measure, she said.
“Nung isang araw, nung nagkaroon ng hearing sa HOR, isang rekomendasyon (During a hearing at the HOR the other day, one recommendation) was to just merge the Public Health Emergency bill with the Philippine Center for Disease Control Bill,” said Vergeire.
The Philippines is under a state of calamity due to Covid-19 until Dec. 31, 2022.