By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said there is no need to appoint Vice President Leni Robredo to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases if her intentions in helping in the fight against COVID-19 are genuine.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV suggested to the government to appoint Robredo to lead the IATF.
Roque clarified that his remarks telling the Vice President to just offer solutions instead of criticisms did not mean that the Palace was diminishing Robredo’s efforts to help those affected by the pandemic.
“Be that as it may, this does not diminish the fact we acknowledge the contributions of the Vice President in the fight against COVID-19,” he said Friday.
“She is helping in her own ways and if her intentions are genuine, there is no need for her to be appointed or designated in the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), as suggested by the former Senator,” he added.
He, however, reiterated his appeal to Robredo.
“If she could offer solutions on how to address those who earlier tested negative for COVID-19 in Metro Manila but tested positive once they reached their respective provinces, I would be more than willing to submit her proposed solutions to the IATF,” he said.
Roque asked critics not to make an issue out of his remarks about the Vice President since he was only answering a question from the media.
He specifically asked Trillanes to stop trying to divide the nation at a time when everyone should unite against a common unseen enemy.
“We call on Mr. Trillanes not to twist my statement for the sake of political relevance and just do his share to alleviate the plight of our people amid this pandemic,” Roque said.
“It is only through our solidarity and cooperation can we heal and recover as one,” he added.
In a statement, Trillanes took a swipe at both Roque and President Duterte and defended Robredo.
At the start of the Luzon-wide lockdown in March, the Office of the Vice President (OVP) initiated bus transportation services for healthcare workers who were affected by the ban on public transport.
The OVP has likewise raised funds in order to purchase personal protective equipment (OVP), opened up accommodations for frontliners, and initiated an e-market project that taps tricycle drivers to deliver market goods to buyers.
Recently, Robredo’s office asked the public to donate unused gadgets that students and teachers may use for distance learning.
In April this year, President Duterte defended Robredo and fired Manuelito Luna from the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) for calling on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe Robredo for asking the private sector to help frontliners.
Duterte had said that he may have criticized and used harsh language against Robredo before but the Vice President did nothing wrong when she asked for the help of the private sector.