Marcos says to name DOH chief once COVID-19 situation normalizes
MANILA, Philippines — The appointment of a health secretary would only happen once the COVID-19 situation in the country has normalized.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday released a statement to explain the delay in appointing a new Health chief.
He said that ideally, the government should no longer treat the Coronavirus pandemic as an emergency, but as “something that we will have to manage forever like the flu pneumonia.”
However, he also explained it could affect health worker benefits, vaccinations and medical supplies, and the indemnity fund, among other things, because it could entail lifting the nationwide state of calamity designation.
“Sa ngayon, naghahanap kami ng paraan para ma-normalize na natin at hindi na natin kailangan sabihin na ang Pilipinas ay [nasa] state of calamity pa rin,” he said in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the 48th Philippine Business Conference and Exposition 2022 at Manila Hotel.
(For now, we in the government are finding ways to normalize the situation so that we can no longer say that the Philippines is still in a state of calamity.)
“Paabutin natin doon and then we will normalize also all the reorganization of the government,” Marcos added.
(Let’s get there and then we will normalize also all the reorganization of the government.)
Pressed about when he plans to appoint a Department of Health (DOH) chief, Marcos said: “When that happens, when [what] I just explained happens, na maayos na, ma-normalize na (when it’s fine, normalized),” he said.
“I want the people to understand that this is the government’s work, not everything is a crisis, so i-normalize natin ang trabaho ng gobyerno (let’s normalize the work of the government),” the President added.
The President also explained that with this approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines will be able to further open up its economy and make it “more hospitable to travelers both business and tourist.”
“We have to get away from the emergency stance of the DOH because we have to open up businesses, we have to make the Philippines more hospitable to travelers both business and tourist, and it does not help if we are still under a state of calamity. Kailangan pa nating ayusin ‘yun (We still need to fix that),” he said.
Currently, an officer-in-charge is heading the DOH – Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, also the agency’s spokesperson.
The remarks of Marcos regarding arranging the stewardship of the DOH came in light of the detection and confirmed local transmission of the XBB Omicron subvariant and XBC variant in the Philippines.
XBB is reportedly “highly immune-evasive” as people with antibodies against COVID-19 could still acquire it.
It is also said that XBB, a recombinant of BJ.1 (BA.2.10.1 sublineage) and BM.1.1.1 (BA.2.75 sublineage), is causing the case surge in Singapore.
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