Press Release
May 6, 2009

Activate A Public Health Emergency Counci

Senator Rodolfo G Biazon today through the filing of Senate Bill No. 3204 also known as the "Emergency Health Powers Act" proposes the immediate activation of a Public Health Emergency Council whose primary responsibility is to draw up a battle plan against a public health emergency and be responsible for the implementation of the same.

"The Philippine Health Emergency Council should be at the forefront in our fight against biological, chemical or nuclear health threats through its programs on preparation, management and disposal. "

Biazon's bill recommends that the following compose the Public Health Emergency Council:

  1. Secretary of Health as the Chairman

  2. Secretary of Interior and Local Government as Member

  3. Secretary of Trade and Industry as Member

  4. Secretary of Justice as Member

  5. Secretary of National Defense as Member

  6. Press Secretary as Member

"Other government agencies not under the jurisdiction or authority of the standing members of the Council may be included as the need as determined by the Council arises, " the Biazon bill suggests.

Biazon's bill further provides that the Public Health Emergency Council convene within 6 months of its activation, and after drawing up a Plan, conduct a briefing for all local government units about the framework that will be the response to any public health emergency.

Senate Bill No. 3204 also in its Sec. 5 states that, "The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health, may declare a State of Public Health Emergency and immediately convene the Council. The basis for such a declaration shall be made public by the Council through the mass media and a written report submitted to both Houses of Congress."

Biazon said, "Even if the Philippines was spared from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or the SARS which shocked and awed the world into a paranoia that caused countries to close their borders and restrict the movement of people, this should not make us complacent."

"Once again, the world is being threatened by a new kind of virus, the A(H1N1) which has already showed its ugly head this early and manifested that it is as lethal as the SARS."

Biazon cautioned, " There may be more similar outbreaks that may confront us in the future. It is therefore necessary that the country should become proactive in addressing these kinds of situations."

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security concluded, " The establishment of a Plan that we can pull out from our drawer and implement immediately to counteract the emergence or resurgence of contagions is a must. And, with the threat of a deliberate outbreak via bio- terrorism, the urgency is even more emphasized."

As early as 6 years ago in 2003 during the onset of the SARS, Muntinlupa Congressman Rozzano Rufino B Biazon had recommended that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo certify as urgent his House Bill No. 72 seeking the creation of a Public Health Emergency Council. The 12th and 13th Congress failed to act on the bill. Congressman Biazon refilled this bill again this 14th Congress. Senator Biazon's Senate Bill No. 3204 is the counterpart version of Congressman Biazon's refilled House Bill No. 72.

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