IATF’s shift to science-based approach key to fight off COVID-19 — Drilon

Published March 30, 2021, 12:34 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday suggested reorganizing the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease, saying that turning it into a science-based program could be key to successfully defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senator Franklin Drilon
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO)

Drilon made the call as he noticed that the government seems to be reimposing the same rules in its pandemic response but is expecting a different result each time. 

“Maybe we should reorganize the IATF so the kind of thinking that we have today will be replaced by a clear path toward a science-based program, instead of a command-and-control kind of program,” Drilon said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart, March 30.

“We should have science-based programs so that the responses can be based on accepted scientific based programs,” he pointed out.

Drilon expressed his dismay at the new lockdowns the government again imposed on the National Capital Region and four adjacent provinces, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Bulacan due to the rising COVID-19 surge in the country.

At most, the minority leader said the government’s restrictions should be coupled with intensive training, tracing, treatment and teaching, or the “4 T’s”. But the government is failing in all four areas.

“We are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We keep on repeating the same thing over and over again. We keep on doing prolonged lockdowns and hope that it will have a different result,” Drilon stressed.

“It will not have a different result unless we couple it with critical reforms and observance of basic rules which have already been shown effective in other countries,” he added.

Compared to other countries, the senator said the Philippines is conducting 17 tests out of every case. In Vietnam, Drilon said the government is testing 4,200 out of every COVID-19 cases, while Laos is conducting over 2,000 and China at 1,853.

“When we see people affected, then we can track. Again, we fail here. There is no tracking system in place. That was also what the Healthcare Professional Alliance said, there is simply no tracking,” he said.

“Then, treatment. The vaccines are insufficient. Then, the fourth T is teaching. The people’s behavior will be influenced by the credibility of the policies and the announcements. Here, we have announcements that change on a regular basis,” he added.

He also lamented that the credibility of government officials who are making announcements on health protocols and the examples set also matter.

“When you have ‘mañanita’ and when people see this, you lose your credibility when you say [to the public to practice] social distancing,” Drilon pointed out.