DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, that there is still no word yet from the Malacañang in relation to their proposal to place the country again under the state of calamity due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“No categorical and no official response to this request for the extension of the state of calamity. But indirectly, the President has already verbalized in one of his media outings that he is very hesitant to extend the state of calamity,” Vergeire said in a press conference.

The DOH earlier said it recommended to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. the extension of a state calamity, which ended on December 31, 2022.

Vergeire said following their proposal, they had a meeting with several officials from the Office of the President where they discussed the implications and options that the government can take if and when the state of calamity will not be extended.

Marcos in an earlier statement said he is not inclined in prolonging the state of calamity since the country is “no longer in a state of calamity” and that it “is the wrong mindset to be approaching the New Year with.”

He said the government is finding other ways to continue to provide the benefits to medical health workers, which he said is the “main issue without the state of calamity.”

The country was placed under a state of calamity in order for the national government and the local government units to continuously deliver Covid-19-related interventions such as, but not limited to, Covid-19 vaccination program; utilize appropriate funds, including the Quick Response Fund, in their disaster preparedness and response efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19; monitor and control prices of basic necessities and prime commodities; and provide basic services to the affected population.

With the President’s pronouncement, Vergeire said they have already prepared several alternatives on how to manage the pandemic even without the declaration of a state of calamity.

She said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is set to meet on February 1 to discuss particularly the capacity of local government units to implement safeguards amid the decoupling of restrictions. (SunStar Philippines)