3 UP professors critical of COVID-19 response to be invited as IATF advisers — Roque

Published July 23, 2020, 4:20 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Three local health experts critical of the government’s pandemic response have been invited to help the administration in the fight against the new coronavirus disease.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.(CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the University of the Philippines (UP) experts who gave the government’s a failing grade could join the “pool of experts” advising the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF).

Roque said he recognizes the opinion given by University of the Philippines professors Marion Jimenez-Tan and Michael Tan as well as Joshua San Pedro of the Coalition for People’s Right to Health and will welcome them to the task force.

“Siguro po, iimbitahan ko na lang itong tatlong nagsalita para tumulong po sa IATF nang sa ganoon, hindi na nila masabi na failure tayo (Maybe I will invite these three experts to help the IATF to they won’t say we are a failure) so, you are all welcome to join po the pool of experts ng IATF,” he said during a televised briefing Thursday.

“I will personally make sure that letters of invitation are sent to the three colleagues of mine from UP,” he added.  

Former UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan recently gave the government a grade of “F” for “fail” or “falfak” in pandemic response after four months of lockdown. He said the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread in the country while he criticized the lockdown was a “war on the poor” whose lives have deteriorated.

San Pedro also pinpointed the government’s shortcomings in handling the coronavirus emergency, citing the rise in coronavirus cases, alleged inability to attain testing capacity, and overwhelmed health care system. He said the government’s pandemic response needed improvement.

Jimenez-Tan, professor of UP Diliman’s College of Social Work and Community Development, also lamented the government’s failure to promote transparency, accountability, and respect for human rights in dealing with the pandemic. She also criticized the government for allegedly harassing civil society groups providing relief goods to communities instead of supporting them.

As of July 22, the country has recorded 72,269 cases of coronavirus with 1,1843 deaths and 23,623 recoveries.

The government initially placed entire Luzon under strict lockdown in mid-March and started to relax the quarantine by May to jumpstart the stalled economy. The easing of quarantine measures coupled with intensified testing led to the surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.