Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, has thumbed down a proposal to declare a state of calamity in the regions hit by the measles outbreak which has already caused at least 70 deaths, with majority of the fatalities coming from CALABARZON (Cavite Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), as of February 11.
During the NDRRMC Response Cluster Meeting held last Monday, Gordon warned against declaring a state of calamity at present since the number of measles cases is still manageable and does not yet justify such declaration.
"There's no need to create a national emergency here. We're not in danger of a pandemic or an epidemic right now. It's manageable, therefore what you need right now is a call to arms to make sure that everybody is conscious of the need to immunize and that kids must be immunized... We don't have the numbers to justify that (declaration of a state of calamity). So let's not go slip-shod into something that we are not ready for, that doesn't call for it," he said.
Section 3 of Republic Act 10121, known as the "Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010," defines a State of Calamity as "a condition involving mass casualty and/or major damages to property, disruption of means of livelihoods, roads and normal way of life of people in the affected areas as a result of the occurrence of natural or human-induced hazard."
Gordon also pointed out that with the mid-term elections set for May 13, some politicians could exploit the plight of the children sick with measles if a state of calamity is declared, which would give local government units access to calamity funds.
"This is the election period, and excuse na naman yan to spend money...What is important is that we show that we're doing something to address the problem. What is important here is a notice to all to catch up with our immunization program," he said.
Last week, the Department of Health (DOH) declared a measles outbreak in Metro Manila and subsequently declared a "red alert" outbreak in the regions of Luzon and parts of the Visayas. Data from the DOH- Epidemiology Bureau of DOH revealed that from Jan. 1 to Feb. 9 this year, a total of 4,302 measles cases have been reported, with 70 deaths.
Regions with high reported cases are NCR (1,296 cases and 18 deaths) CALABARZON (1,086 cases and 25 deaths), Central Luzon (481 cases with 3 deaths), Western Visayas (212 cases and 4 deaths) and Northern Mindanao (189 cases and 5 deaths). Eastern Visayas, MIMAROPA, CALABARZON, Central Visayas and Bicol are regions that have shown increasing trend as to reported cases for this week.