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The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) will not be abolished, Malacañang said in a report by Philippine News Agency.

“Wala pong mabubuwag (It will not be abolished),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who also concurrently serves as IATF-EID spokesperson, said in an online press conference.

Roque said the government would not concede to renewed calls for the IATF-EID’s abolition amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, saying these are “politically-motivated” considering that the 2022 national and local elections are drawing near.

“Lumalakas na naman po ang ingay sa politika. May ilan na nananawagan pa na dapat daw po buwagin ang Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19. Ito ay sa gitna ng tumataas na aktibong kaso ng Covid-19 sa bansa (The noise of politics is getting louder anew. Some are calling for the abolition of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Covid-19 despite the rise in active Covid-19 cases in the country),” he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senators Maria Imelda Josefa “Imee” Marcos and Risa Hontiveros are among those who are calling for IATF-EID’s’ abolition due to its supposed incompetence in handling the Covid-19 crisis.

‘Unfair’ to be branded ‘incompetent’

Roque said it is “unfair” to attribute the spike in Covid-19 cases to the supposed “incompetence” of the IATF-EID.

“Unfair po na sabihin na itong pagtaas na ito ay dahil sa incompetence (It is unfair to claim that there is a rise [in Covid-19 infections] because of incompetence),” Roque said, adding that there is a rising cases because of the discovery of new Covid-19 variants in the country.

Roque hoped that IATF-EID’s efforts to contain Covid-19 would not go to waste just because of apparent politicking by some government officials he refused to name.

He also reiterated that the IATF-EID is making decisions based on “science” and “data.”

“Nilalabas lang po namin ang katotohanan. At nandiyan po talaga ang datos (We are just telling the truth. There is the data). We are science-driven. We are data-driven,” Roque said. “Huwag naman po sana nating maliitin ang sakripisyo ng mga doctor, eksperto at government workers na bumubuo ng IATF… Maging patas at objective po tayo (Let us not underestimate the sacrifice of doctors, experts, and government workers who are part of the IATF. Let us be fair and objective.”

IATF represents ‘best minds and talents’ of gov’t

Contrary to claims, members of the IATF-EID represent the “best minds and talents” of the government, Roque said.

“The IATF actually represents the best minds and talents of government. We have successfully managed the Covid-19 pandemic. And we will continue to manage it despite the recent challenges na mayroon nga pong mga bagong variants na nagpapataas ng numero (that there are new variants that contribute to the rise in cases),” he said.

Roque also stressed that abolishing the IATF is like “abolishing the whole government.”

Close coordination with private sector

Roque also rejected the proposal to include a representative from the private sector as a “permanent” member of the IATF-EID.

He assured the public that the task force is always in “very close contact” with the private sector before coming up with new measures to fight Covid-19.

“We’re always close coordination with the private sector. Nagkaroon talaga ng collaboration nga ‘no pagdating sa testing with the private sector, collaboration pagdating sa vaccination ‘no, and then collaboration pagdating doon sa mga desisyon nga pagdating sa ekonomiya (There is really a collaboration in terms of testing with the private sector, vaccination, and making decision when it comes to the reopening of the economy),” Roque said. 

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