'Something's wrong': Sotto backs Marcos' call to abolish COVID-19 task force over rising cases

Katrina Domingo and Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2021 07:24 PM

MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Monday backed Sen. Imee Marcos' call to abolish the government's task Force on COVID-19 after the Philippines registered thousands of new COVID-19 cases daily, a year after the country was placed in a lockdown to curb the spread of the disease.

"Something is wrong. Imbis na pa-subside, pababa, tumaas after 1 year," Sottor told reporters in an online press conference.

"Kung ganito din lang na hindi naha-handle nang matino, ipa-handle na sa mga doktor," he said.

The task force is mostly manned by former military generals and Cabinet secretaries who either have no or limited backgrounds in medicine and health.

Marcos earlier called for the abolition of the panel, saying the group has been coming out with "confusing" health protocols instead of pushing down the number of new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.

"Hilong-hilo na tayo sa kanila. For me, sobra ang kanilang utak lockdown, sobra yung arrest, sobra yung para sa mga tao. Kulang yung sa medical, sa science, sa testing," she said.

(They've really confused us. They have been imposing too many lockdowns, too many arrests, too many policies against the people, but lack policies on the medical, science and testing fronts.)

"Habang hindi binabago ang IATF, hindi binabago ang pamamalakad, palpak pa more, infection pa more, COVID pa more," she said.

(While the IATF is not yet changed, while the policies are not yet changed, then we can expect more mistakes, more infections and more COVID.)

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also blamed the panel for the continuous rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

"Maraming namamatay dahil sa incompetence," Drilon told TeleRadyo.

(A lot of people are dying because of incompetence.)

Sotto said one of the panel's weaknesses was its inability to accept suggestions from those who are not members of the team.

"Kapag hindi galing sa kanila ang idea, parang hindi nila gusto," the Senate President said.

(When the idea does not come from them, they do not like it.)

"Kapag hindi sa kanila yung idea, hindi nila tinatanggap. Baka akala, magaling na magaling sila," he added.

(When the idea is not theirs, they do not accept it. Maybe they think they are the best.)

Last month, a former government adviser also called for the abolition of the task force, saying the body has been "a bottleneck area for decisions not based on science."

Senators have yet to consider if members of the task force should be invited to a hearing to explain the surge in new COVID-19 cases a year after the disease began spreading in the country, the Senate President said.

Metro Manila and nearby provinces were placed in a "bubble" beginning Monday as the Philippines registered over 8,000 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily figure since the virus was first detected in the Philippines in January 2020.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is co-chaired by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

The National Task Force - COVID-19, meanwhile, has Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana as chair, and Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano as vice chair.

The Chief Implementer is Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr., supported by the following:
- Deputy Chief Implementer and testing czar Sec. Vince Dizon
- Contact tracing czar Mayor Benjamin Magalong of Baguio City
- Isolation czar Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, and
- Treatment czar Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega

The said officials have yet to issue statements on the comments of the senators.

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