Senator seeks ‘militarization’ of quarantine bureau | Inquirer News

Senator seeks ‘militarization’ of quarantine bureau

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:52 AM December 27, 2023

Sen. Manuel "Lito" Lapid

Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid. Senate PRIB file photo

Will quarantine officers with military ranks make the country safer from communicable diseases?

Sen. Lito Lapid thinks so as he moved for the passage of a bill seeking to transform the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) into the Philippine Quarantine Authority (PQA) and provide its personnel with law enforcement powers.


Under Senate Bill No. 2508, Lapid proposed a military-like hierarchy in the BOQ similar to the bureau’s post-World War II organizational structure in 1947.


He said reviving the quarantine bureau’s original leadership system would “fortify their authority in dealing with outbreaks and public health emergencies.”

“The proposed conversion to the PQA is grounded in the recognition of the need for a certain level of coercive authority to effectively manage and mitigate the impact of outbreaks and public health emergencies,” Lapid said in the measure’s explanatory note.

Military ranks

“By returning military ranks to quarantine officials, the PQA will be empowered to act swiftly and decisively, ensuring the immediate implementation of quarantine measures and the enforcement of public health protocols,” he argued.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic was a grim reminder for the Philippines to establish a “robust and adaptive public health infrastructure.”

“By learning from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lapid said, “this bill seeks to equip the country with the necessary tools and authority to effectively manage outbreaks and epidemics, protecting the health and well-being of our citizens.”

“As we continue to grapple with the repercussions of the global health crisis, it becomes evident that the existing mechanisms for managing outbreaks and epidemics in the Philippines require reinforcement and modernization,” he stressed.


The proposed PQA will be headed by a director general with the rank of at least rear admiral, or a two-star flag officer in the military.

He said all quarantine officials under the PQA director general will have the ranks similar to officers in the Philippine Navy—commodore, captain, commander, lieutenant commander, lieutenant senior grade, and lieutenant junior grade.

“Such quarantine officers shall be commissioned by the President, upon the recommendation of the Director General of the PQA with the approval of the Secretary of Health,” read a provision of the measure.

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READ: PH’s Bureau of Quarantine now tracing 182 travelers from South Africa

TAGS: Lito Lapid, Military, Quarantine

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