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COVID-19 THREAT

Duterte signs proclamation declaring public health emergency


President Rodrigo Duterte has already signed the proclamation declaring a public health emergency over the increasing number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the country, according to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday.

Proclamation 922 was signed by Duterte on Sunday. The proclamation will remain in effect until lifted by the President.

“Such declaration would facilitate the implementation of the relevant provisions of Republic Act 11332 to address the COVID-19 threat, including but not limited to mandatory reporting, intensify government response and measures and enforce quarantine and disease control prevention measures,” the proclamation stated.

Duterte said the Secretary of Health may call upon the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies to provide assistance in addressing the COVID-19 threat.

The President also asked all citizens, tourists and establishment owners to “act within the bounds of law and to comply with lawful directives and advisories” to be issued by concerned government agencies.

Panelo said under such declaration, the country can control ng prices of basic commodities and can purchase medical equipment without the requisite bidding process.

Asked if the purchase without bidding will open the government to corruption, Panelo told Dobol B sa News TV, "Sa panahon ng mga nakaraang administration siguro, not in this administration."

"Alam naman natin si Presidente. Ibang klaseng presidente ito, hindi uubra sa kaniya 'yung mga ganyan," Panelo added.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said that under state of public health emergency, no one can refuse to undergo quarantine procedures.

Senator Bong Go, the former special assistant to the president, said over the weekend that Duterte had agreed to declare a public health emergency after COVID-19 cases in the country rose to six.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said the Department of Health had recommended the declaration after it raised its alert to Code Red Sub-Level 1 as it confirmed the fifth COVID-19 patient was a case of local transmission.

The country now has 10 confirmed cases after the DOH announced four more on Sunday. Three, all Chinese, were declared in January and February, while two more were added on Friday and another on Saturday. —KBK, GMA News