Senator seeks revision of quarantine system

December 16, 2023, 7:20 pm

<p>A quarantine facility in Manila used during the pandemic.  <em>(PNA file photo)</em></p>

A quarantine facility in Manila used during the pandemic.  (PNA file photo)

MANILA – A senator is pushing to revise the government’s quarantine system to better and effectively combat outbreaks and epidemics.

In Senate Bill No. 2508 or the Philippine Quarantine Authority (PQA) Act, Senator Lito Lapid underscored the need for a robust and adaptive public health infrastructure.

Lapid said it could be attained by transforming the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) into the Philippine Quarantine Authority and restoring the military ranks to its officials to fortify their authority in dealing with outbreaks and public health emergencies.

“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,” Lapid said in his explanatory note.

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 similar to what happened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“By learning from the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, 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,“ he added.

The creation of the PQA is complementary to the Philippine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Act, he said, adding that while the latter focuses on research activities, the new body will serve as the regulatory and implementing agency responsible for executing and enforcing regulations on the ground.

This synergy ensures a comprehensive and coordinated approach to public health management, aligning research efforts with practical measures for effective disease prevention and control.

The bill repeals Republic Act (RA) 9271 or the Quarantine Act of 2004.

Under RA 9271, the BOQ is placed under the Department of Health, with the category of a first-class line bureau and a nationwide scope of function and commitment in accordance with the international regulations of the World Health Organization. (Leonel Abasola/PNA)