MANILA — Malacanang announced on Sunday that President Benigno S. Aquino III signed last week an executive order (EO) aimed to address emerging infectious diseases in the country.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. made the announcement in an interview over state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
Under EO No. 168, the government is mandated to create an Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
These emerging infectious diseases include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Avian Influenza, Ebola, and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
“These diseases are currently being addressed by authorities because of the threat of having extensive public health emergency or health crisis due to the rapid proliferation of frequent travels of Filipinos in different countries and the flow of goods in international business,” Coloma said in Filipino.
Coloma said the task force will consist of the following agencies: chairperson, Department of Health; members: Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Tourism, Department of Transportation and Communications.
The PCOO chief further said that other diseases that can easily be transmitted and are also being given focus on include meningococcemia, leptospirosis, anti-microbial resistance of tuberculosis, among other bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases.
Aside from the EO on emerging diseases, Coloma said the President has also signed an EO aimed at controlling the infestation in the country’s coconut plantations.
EO No. 169 establishes emergency measures to control and manage the spread and damage of Aspidiotus Rigidus in the Philippines. It also designates the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) as the lead agency for the purpose.
Under the EO, the PCA is mandated to identify the infested areas and coordinate efforts in formulating appropriate emergency measures to treat infected coconut trees and host plants.