MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday sought the formation of a national body that would serve as lead agency in handling outbreaks of diseases as the Philippines grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
Duterte, during his penultimate State of the Nation Address, asked for congressional support for the creation of a National Disease Prevention and Management Authority.
"COVID-19 will not only be the last pandemic. We need to create a National Disease Prevention and Management Authority to better respond to future outbreaks," he said in his speech.
"We count on Congress’ full support," he added.
While the government has yet to secure funds for such a body, the President said a mirror of it can already be established under the Department of Health.
"In the long term, we are looking into the creation of the National Disease Prevention and Management Authority to better prepare for pandemics, protect lives, and allow development to proceed even in the worst of times," he said.
"We are counting on the full support of Congress for this critically important endeavor," he added.
Duterte's remarks came as the world faces the coronavirus pandemic that has infected over 80,000 people in the country, of whom, nearly 2,000 have died.
As of Monday, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the Philippines reached 53,649.