The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday dismissed claims that a proposed bill creating the country’s Center for Disease Prevention and Control would pave the way for a so-called “medical martial law.”
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has certified as urgent Senate Bill 1869, the upper chamber’s version of House Bill 6522, which was approved by the House of Representatives on the third and final reading last December.
“The CDC bill is not a medical martial law,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.
“The CDC bill has been proposed for us to be prepared in future pandemics or future threats to public health of a nation,” Vergeire said.
Vergeire was reacting to allegations made online regarding the alleged oppressive provisions in the Senate bill.
An online petition on Change.org claimed the measure infringes on the right to life, curtails the right to liberty, freedom of abode, right to privacy and right to prior free and informed consent, among others.
Vergeire said however that a local CDC would further strengthen the country’s capability to address public health emergencies, making for effective disease prevention and control.
She also said the CDC aims to strategically improve epidemiological and public health surveillance, scale up information systems capacity, and strengthen the role and capacity of public health laboratories to
ensure rapid response where and when public health threats arise.
The DOH OIC also emphasized that with CDC, all systems that are essential to ensure a proactive health response in normal and emergency situations will be strengthened and institutionalized.
The CDC will be the technical authority on forecasting, analysis, strategy, and standards development for the prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases and health security events, whether domestic or international, she added.
“Nowhere can you find within this CDC draft bill any provision that will state we’re going to have a medical martial law,” Vergeire said.
Should the measure be enacted, the CDC will be under the DOH secretary.
The functions of the CDC include the following:
- Develop strategies, standards, and policies for disease prevention and control;
- Implement disease surveillance and field epidemiology activities;
- Perform data collection and analytics;
- Establish and strengthen public health laboratories;
- Recommend actions for public health threats to appropriate national government bodies;
- Lead public health and risk communications;
- Conduct and manage health research and evidence synthesis;
- Build local capacity for surveillance and health research; and
- Promote scientific integrity by ensuring that all its products are technically accurate, scientifically and ethically sound, and useful to the government and the intended population through the institutionalization of appropriate mechanisms and bodies.