Senator Risa Hontiveros wants to investigate the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for assigning Cabinet secretaries to various local government units (LGUs) to monitor their COVID-19 response.
Hontiveros, describing this as “toxic micromanagement,” also cited reports the IATF Cabinet members intervene at the barangay level.
She filed on Monday Senate Resolution 495, urging the proper Senate committee to investigate, in aid of legislation, IATF Resolution 62, which assigned Cabinet secretaries to the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal.
While the IATF members, arguably are experts in their respective fields, Hontiveros said they were not experts nor do they have any experience in health system performance, critical care capacity, and surveillance, isolation, and treatment protocols.
“The mayor might even teach them,” she added.
“It is also rather imprudent to assign these members to monitor LGUs when IATF as a body has already been saddled with controversies involving its policy decisions and pronouncements, the accuracy and integrity of the data reported, and even some allegedly anomalous
procurement-related transactions,” said Hontiveros.
The Akbayan senator said the Senate had previously raised concerns about the procurement of overpriced personal protective equipment (PPE), the Department of Health’s erroneous COVID-19 data, as well as the credibility of the IATF Chairperson Secretary Francisco Duque,
particularly his ‘flip-flop’ pronouncements on the wave of COVID-19 infections in the country. This, she said, should set off alarm bells about allowing IATF to interfere with the LGUs’ affairs.
“The members of the IATF, many of whom have no background in local governments or pandemic response, are unnecessarily overstepping. What the LGUs need is a coherent national COVID management strategy, not undue interference,” the senator said.
Hontiveros also questioned the rationale behind how the Cabinet members were assigned to their respective LGUs.
She asked: “Why is Sec. Harry Roque assigned in Pasay? Shouldn’t he be focusing on his job as a presidential spokesperson? And why is Sec. Duque in Quezon City, when as Secretary of the Department of Health, he should be overseeing the overall management of the COVID-19 response?
“And why did Sec. Nograles, after being assigned in Quezon City. said QC residents
can join clinical trials of vaccines from Russia? Was that their plan? It seemed there was no data or science on this decision.”
She added: “Let’s just trust the LGUs. The mayors have more known and has been acting on the ground for a long time. The IATF should do its mandate and give an effective strategy, plane and support.”