COVID response boosted by IATF, says Palace, amid renewed calls for its abolition

Published September 30, 2021, 2:29 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said fighting the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic would have even been more difficult without the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, urging the public to recognize the good that the body has done.

File photo of President Duterte presiding over a meeting with core members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in Malacañang on August 2, 2021. (Malacañang)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Senator Joel Villanueva proposed the abolition of the IATF, saying it was “not working,” and instead empower local government units (LGUs).

In his press briefing on Thursday, September 30, Roque said many decisions would not have been made without the IATF, including the decisions to buy COVID-19 vaccines, set quarantine classifications, and implement a new Alert Levels System.

He added that the IATF’s decisions resulted in the Philippines not ranking high worldwide in terms of COVID-19 infections and having a case fatality rate of just 1.5 percent as of September 29.

According to Roque, it is important to look at these figures.

“Alam ko po tumaas ngayon dahil sa Delta variant, pero ang tiitgnan po natin talaga ang importante: ilan ang namatay (I know our cases spiked because of the Delta variant but let’s look at what’s important: the number of deaths),” he said.

“Sa ngayon po, talaga naman pong mas mababa ang mga namamatay kung ikukumpara natin sa buong mundo (Currently, we have a lower number of deaths compared to the rest of the world),” he added.

The Palace official urged the public to cut the IATF some slack and recognize the good it has done. He said without the IATF, more Filipinos would have succumbed to COVID-19.

“We don’t claim to have been perfect. But certainly, let’s give due recognition where it is due,” he said.

“Nakikita naman po natin naiiwasan natin ang mas marami pa sanang mga kamatayan kung hindi po tayo nag-implement ng mga measures na sinangguni at binuo po ng ating IATF (We see that we have been preventing many deaths because of the measures crafted by the IATF),” he added.

This was not the first time that the abolition of the IATF was sought. In March this year, the same call was made by critics of the administration following a spike in COVID-19 infections. The Palace dismissed the calls as politically motivated.