MANILA - A senator on Tuesday urged government to include local executives in the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Against COVID-19 and give them discretion on which items in the national protocols they can enforce in their own areas.
Local officials such as mayors are "more attuned to what’s happening on the ground," said Sen. Francis Tolentino.
"Why don’t we just allow the IATF to have the national protocols procedures in place and leave it to LGUs (local government units) to choose from the menu of IATF procedures which one to follow?" he told ANC's Headstart.
"The pandemic really is a testing ground for good governance methods, not just for good governance methods but for health responses, and no one has a monopoly on this."
Tolentino said he has proposed that local chief executives should have an active membership or representation in the IATF.
The senator cited as an example the national government's tussle with the Cebu provincial government, which initially refused to follow the national protocol for travelers.
He also proposed face-to-face classes in COVID-19 low-risk areas.
"The learning accumulation of our pupils really went down during this online modality system. Why don’t we give it a try, may bakuna naman ang ibang teachers, yung mga lugar lang na safe," he said.
(Why don’t we give it a try, some teachers are vaccinated already, just in areas that are safe.)
Aside from local governments, the business sector should also be represented, Tolentino said.
"The same is true for the biz sector. They should be at the forefront. They imported thousands of AstraZeneca, Moderna (COVID-19 vaccines) for their employees to spur the economy," he said.
"I think these two groups were neglected for a long time, the local government and business sector, and they will be, they are still at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight."