By Argyll Geducos
President Duterte has ordered Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to fly to Cebu City and oversee the implementation of the measures against the COVID-19 pandemic and make recommendations on what should be done to contain the spread of the disease.
Duterte made the statement as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the City reached 4,449 on Monday, of which 2,221 are still active cases.
In his public address on Monday, President Duterte said Cimatu’s new role is an adjunct office of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, allowing him to exercise all of the collegial body’s powers.
“Itong office ni Secretary Cimatu (Secretary Cimatu’s new office) will be an adjunct to that body (IATF). So he will exercise all the powers of that body,” he said.
“All he has to do, not for permission, but just to advise Manila here that these things are being done, these things are not yet done, and these things must be done,” he added.
According to Duterte, Cimatu can start his work as soon as possible and that the executive order detailing his new assignment will be issued later on.
“If you want to stay there, or you may want to fly back, but I must have the picture of how grave the situation is or the situations are,” President Duterte told Cimatu.
“He has just to make the recommendation, let us know what we should be doing, and that is very important,” he added.
He called on members of the IATF to give their full support to Cimatu.
In response, Cimatu said he will do his best to carry out his new task.
“It’s an honor for me to be doing things to save the lives of some people in Cebu at this time of pandemic,” he told President Duterte.
Malacañang announced over the weekend that the IATF was eyeing the appointment of a deputy implementer of the government’s COVID-19 policies in the entire Visayas due to the rising number of cases there.
According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 will evaluate the ground-level response of the Cebu City local government units (LGUs) for a week beginning June 22, 2020.
Stop the blame game
President Duterte appealed to the people, particularly the local government officials of Cebu City to stop blaming each other about their situation.
“‘Wag nalang tayong magsisihan kasi nandyan na rin ‘yan (Let’s not blame each other because we’re already in this situation anyway),” he said.
The President, however, said Cebu City’s situation could have been avoided if only they listened to the warning of the government and followed the quarantine guidelines.
“Kayong mga taga-Cebu, bakit marami (To the people of Cebu. You’re wondering why you have so many cases)? [It’s] Because you were too confident and too complacent about it. Parang binalewala ninyo kaya dumating (It appears that you brushed it aside that’s why the disease was able to come in),” Duterte said.
“There were rules imposed hoping that at least not everybody, but a majority will honor the rules and regulations promulgated by the government for your own good,” he added.
The President likewise said the situation will only get worse if he will leave the local government officials of Cebu City to address the situation on their own.
“If you solve the problem locally amongst the officials there, there’s bound to be a derailment in the programs of government because they will start to blame each other,” Duterte said.
“Kayong mga taga-Cebu (To the people of Cebu), it’s not that I do not trust your ability, but rather it’s the penchant to go into a sort of a… Yung sisihan nga tapos (blaming each other and then) nobody would answer for anything,” he continued.
Duterte, however, expressed confidence that Cebu City will be able to overcome the challenge it is facing.
“I’m just sad that Cebu has to undergo that kind of painful situation now. But nonetheless, kaya natin ‘yan (we can make it),” he said.