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SONA 2023

Marcos: Gov’t to release COVID health emergency allowance, other pending benefits for healthcare workers

By ANNA FELICIA BAJO,GMA Integrated News

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said Monday that the Philippine government would release the COVID-19 health emergency allowance and other benefits that are due for healthcare workers.

The President said in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) that it is time to give the benefits of medical personnel following their hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Upang masuklian naman natin ang naging sakripisyo ng ating mga health workers sa pribado at pampublikong ospital noong nakaraang pandemya, ipapamahagi na sa kanila ang kanilang COVID health emergency allowance at iba pang mga nabinbin na benepisyon," Marcos said.

[To repay the sacrifices by our health workers in private and public hospitals during the pandemic, we will release to them the COVID health emergency allowance and other benefits due them.] 

Marcos also said the government is refocusing the health priorities, "applying the lessons learnt from the pandemic and addressing the weaknesses that it has exposed."

He emphasized that healthier communities and lifestyles are our advocacy. Marcos mentioned the government's programs to address hunger and nutrition-related issues amongst our people, especially the children, like stunting and wasting.

"Last week, we introduced the pilot Food Stamp Program (FSP), which seeks to supply the nutrition needs of the million most food-poor Filipinos," Marcos said.

The FSP shall complement the country's nutrition continuity programs, such as the First 1,000 Days program which ensures nourishment for the first three years of a child’s life. 

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State of public health emergency lifted

Marcos Jr. late last week lifted the State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines due to COVID-19 through Proclamation No. 297.

"All prior orders, memoranda, and issuances that are effective only during the State of Public Health Emergency shall be deemed withdrawn, revoked or canceled and shall no longer be in effect," read the President’s proclamation.

Proclamation No. 297 was issued on Friday but was only made public through a statement from the Palace released on Saturday, July 22, 2023.

"All EUA (emergency use authorization) issued by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) pursuant to Executive Order (EO) No. 121 (s. 2020) shall remain valid for a period of one year from the date of lifting of the State of Public of Public Health Emergency for the sole purposes of exhausting the remaining vaccines," it added.

Marcos also enjoined all agencies to ensure that their policies take into consideration the lifting of the State of Public Health Emergency and to amend existing or promulgate new issuances, as may be appropriate. —  RSJ/NB, GMA Integrated News