The Department of Health (DOH) has requested President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to extend the state of calamity in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that they made this request after the proposed measure for the creation of Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) was not approved “on time.”
“We already submitted our memo for the President requesting the extension of the state of calamity in consideration of the fact that the CDC bill was not enacted on time,” said Vergeire in a press briefing on Tuesday, Dec. 27.
To note, the CDC bill will allow the continuation of the country’s Covid-19 response even without the declaration of a state of calamity. The Covid-19 state of calamity is set to expire on Dec. 31.
Vergeire said that they already discussed their recommendation to the Office of the Presidential Management Staff and other concerned agencies last Dec. 23 “to explain to all of them why we are seeking this extension.”
“So, we are just waiting for the official response of the Office of the President in terms of this memo that we have submitted to them,” said Vergeire.
The DOH official cited “implications” that may happen if the state of calamity will not be extended.
“We will be losing the different response strategies that we are doing right now. Because first, yung ating (our) Covid-19 vaccination program is anchored on the state of calamity provision of the law. Kaya pag nawala iyon, baka mahirapan tayo na magpatupad ng pagbabakuna natin ng Covid-19 (So if we lose that, we might have a hard time implementing our Covid-19 vaccination),” she said.
“Yung emergency use authority na ibinibigay natin sa ating mga bakuna pati sa mga gamot na ginagamit natin ngayon (The emergency use authority that we are giving to our vaccines as well as the medicines that we are using now) for Covid-19---we will also have issues on that. Also yung ating mga (our) indemnification and immunity from liability na nakasaad sa batas ay baka mahirapan din tayo (that are stated in the law, we may experience difficulty on that),” she added.
In March 2020, former President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 929 declaring a state of calamity in the Philippines due to Covid-19 for a period of six months. Since then, the period of state of calamity has been extended.
Based on the DOH data, a total of 73.7 million Filipinos have already been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The government has already administered 21.1 million booster shots to eligible individuals.