Duterte orders Cimatu to oversee COVID-19 response in Cebu City

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2020 02:19 AM | Updated as of Jun 23 2020 08:11 AM

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu joins the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) meeting presided by President Duterte at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on June 22, 2020. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has tasked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee the government’s pandemic response in Cebu City, following an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in the area.

During his speech in Malacanang Monday night, Duterte ordered Cimatu to fly to Cebu to head an adjunct office of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and said that the official would be exercising all the powers of the IATF.

“Sabi ko kay General Cimatu just exercise the powers of the Task Force anyway you are an adjunct office there. I will just write an executive order to follow and he might fly anytime,” Duterte said during his speech.

“I must have the picture of how grave the situation is,” he added. “He has just to make recommendations and let us know what we should be doing and that is very important. It’s part really of the intelligence work of any organization to know what is ahead and behind and on the side so that you’d know how to prepare and go and fight the enemy --- COVID.”

The Philippine government earlier returned Cebu City under the Enhanced Community Quarantine due to the rising cases of COVID-19. As of Monday, the city has recorded a total of 4,449 cases.

“Kayong mga taga-Cebu, bakit marami? Because you were too confident and too complacent about it. Parang binalewala ninyo kaya dumating,” Duterte said.

In his speech, the President noted that the situation might get worse if he lets local officials deal with the situation by themselves.

“If you solve the problem locally among --- amongst the officials there, there’s bound to be a derailment in the programs of government because they would start to blame each other and nobody would try to introduce novel ideas or even to implement one that is already --- a measure that is already of proven efficacy kasi nagsisisihan na,” Duterte said.

“So kayong mga taga-Cebu, it’s not that I do not trust your ability but rather I said it’s the penchant to go into a sort of a ‘yang sisihan nga tapos nobody would answer for anything,” he continued.

Malacanang earlier announced that the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 will conduct an evaluation of the ground level response of Cebu city government units on COVID-19 starting this week.

“Maglalagay din po ang NTF ng emergency operation center at magde-designate po tayo ng isang Visayas Deputy Implementer for Region VII and the entire Visayas,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in his regular briefing Monday.