May 7, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 189 views

THE House of Representatives, led by Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez welcomed the decision of the World Health Organization (WHO) to lift its Covid-19 global health emergency declaration.

According to Romualdez, the decision shows that countries around the globe, including the Philippines, have succeeded through collaborative effort in fighting the highly infectious novel coronavirus and its variants, though they remain a threat to public health.

However, Romualdez reminded the public “to wear a face mask when needed, wash your hands, isolate when sick, observe physical distancing, and get vaccinated” to avoid Covid-19.

The Speaker also urged the Department of Health (DOH) and the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) managing the country’s response to the pandemic to prescribe minimum health protocols that would be consistent with the WHO decision to scuttle its global health emergency declaration.

“I think our people have learned to live with the virus. Though there is no wear-face-mask mandate, many of them continue to wear mask and observe physical distancing. They are aware of the residual threat and they are not letting their guard down,” he said.

He said the lifting of the global health emergency “should pave the way for us to sustain our economic growth or even take the economy to a higher growth path for the benefit of our people, especially the poor.”

“It should translate to increased mobility, more economic activities and therefore additional job and income opportunities for our workers and their families,” the House leader added.

It can be recalled that Speaker Romualdez, then Majority Leader of the 18th Congress, spearheaded the passage of several laws Congress enacted in 2020 and 2021 to help people and all sectors affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

These laws include Bayanihan 1 and 2 (Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and Bayanihan to Recover as One Act), which provided billions of pesos in assistance to the poor, health workers and small and medium enterprises that struggled due to the health crisis.

The House leader said the WHO decision and the lifting of travel restrictions by several countries, including the United States and Japan, could result in freer travel and more tourists visiting the Philippines.

At the same time, he asked the DOH to continue encouraging people to avail themselves of free Covid-19 vaccination the government is offering.

He noted that though most of the population already had their primary shots, many still have to receive their first and second boosters, while only a small number had not taken advantage of free vaccination.

The House leader also asked local officials to continue to monitor the situation in their respective areas and to immediately take the necessary measures whenever there is a spike in Covid-19 cases.

“Let us promptly attend to those needing help so that this virus does not infect more people and lead to more deaths,” he said.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) also joined other countries in welcoming the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration.

The DOT aid the unprecedented loss of life and livelihood brought forth by the pandemic caused so much suffering and upended the lives of countless Filipinos, including millions of tourism stakeholders and workers across the country.

The service and sacrifice of so many have helped our country surmount one of the greatest challenges of our time, and for that, we are truly grateful.

Bearing in mind the significant role that tourism plays in helping revive our national and local economies, the Marcos administration has begun to institute policies to fully open up Philippine tourism to the world, encourage the promotion of livelihood and the creation of jobs, and usher in the influx of investment, so tourism may benefit as many Filipinos as possible, it said.

“The end of the pandemic signals hope that tourism in the Philippines will continue to thrive and transform into the powerhouse that can be fueled by the hard work, distinct hospitality, love and warmth, and pride of place of the Filipino people,” the DOT added. Jester Manalastas and Cristina Lee-Pisco