President Duterte has the command responsibility for the Interagency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) “poor” handling of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Wednesday, April 7.
“He is really the one in the hot seat in terms of command responsibility,” Hontiveros said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on April 7.
The opposition said this as she attributed the Philippines’ current “sorry state” to the way leaders in the IATF address the pandemic.
“I’m sorry, but the sorry state we are in right now ay dahil sa napakamahina at di mahusay na pandemic response sa pamumuno ng IATF (is because of the very poor and ineffective pandemic response of the IATF leadership),” she lamented.
Hontiveros earlier supported the call of her fellow senators for an overhaul of the IATF to include more public health and infectious disease experts.
Duterte, she said, has the authority to change the composition of the task force.
“And that is also an element of command responsibility to replace people who are not qualified or are not doing their job well lalo pa’t isang taon na (especially that it has already been one year that we are battling this pandemic),” she added.
“It’s way more than the time we need, sobrang haba na ng pisi ng mga tao (the people’s patience is already running out) for us to see that something is not working. At pagka something is not working, baguhin natin, palitan natin (And when something is not working, let’s change it, replace it),” she appealed.
Hontiveros specifically identified IATF chairman and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who she described as “problematic”.
She added that “we have too many military officials in a health task force.”
“We need their expertise more in terms of national defense for example in the West Philippine Sea,” she noted.
On World Health Day, April 7, Hontiveros called on the government to “step up” in its COVID-19 response.
She reiterated that the reimposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) alone will not solve the pandemic.
“ECQ alone is a tired formula which hadn’t worked in the past…Kung gusto talaga natin ng better heath and economic outcomes we have to step up even under the quarantine (If we really wanted better health and economic outcome, we need to step up even under the quarantine),” Hontiveros said.
“If government is not meeting citizens halfway in terms of the health and economic measures that are necessary to make quarantines work for us and to make quarantines worth the sacrifice for citizens, bakit tayo mag-eexpect ng ibang outcomes (why should we expect different outcomes)?” she added.