September 12, 2022 | 3:13pm
STAR / Ernie Peñaredondo
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is extending its COVID-19 state of calamity status for “possibly” until the last quarter of the year to allow the country to have emergency procurement benefits and to continue giving allowances for healthcare workers, among others.
“The state of calamity is extended for possibly three months but only for the purpose of preserving the benefits under it such as but not limited to the indemnification, emergency procurement, special risk allowance for healthcare workers,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a press briefing on Monday.
She said the country will transition out of its state of calamity status “after further review,” but did not elaborate further.
Former President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation No. 929, that declared a state of calamity across the country, in March 2020 when the virus began to spread in the country. The status was only supposed to last for six months.
However, it was extended for a year up to September 12, 2021 via Proclamation No. 1021 and was extended for a second time through Proclamation No. 1218.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier called on the government to study the lifting of the country’s state of calamity status as it will have “many operational implications,” taking into account the benefits Cruz-Angeles mentioned.
“There are policies, such as the emergency use athority of vaccines and medicines for COVID-19, which will be affected,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said on state television in June.
RELATED: Lifting state of calamity status will have effects on pandemic policies — DOH
Despite remaining under a state of calamity, however, the government on Monday also made face masks voluntary outdoors or in open spaces since the country is already 6% away from the so-called “wall of immunity.”
The DOH National COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard showed that as of Sunday, the country has administered 161.571 million doses of the vaccine against the virus.
Over 72.770 million individuals have received their complete COVID-19 vaccinations, but only 18.552 million have received their booster shots. — Kaycee Valmonte