Cimatu to serve as Duterte’s eyes and ears in Cebu City—Palace
MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu will serve as President Rodrigo Duterte’s eyes and ears in Cebu City, the current COVID-19 hotspot, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Duterte on Monday night tasked Cimatu, a former Armed Forces chief, to oversee the COVID-19 response in Cebu City which recently saw a surge in coronavirus infections.
“The marching order to Sec. Cimatu is doing what you must do,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
“Implement the policies of the IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases] You don’t need to ask permission from IATF, but perhaps he should give notice to the IATF. I want you to be my eyes and ears. Something has to be done to curtail the spread of the disease in Cebu City and he believes that Sec. Cimatu was the man to do it,” he added.
Cimatu, during the IATF meeting with Duterte on Monday night, accepted the new designation given to him by the President.
“I fully accept the challenge you gave for Cebu, Mr. President. Just like the orders you gave to me before to go to Boracay and we changed the cesspool image of Boracay into what it is now,” Cimatu said, referring to his role in leading the cleanup of the world-famous island-resort in 2018.
The Environment chief will be the latest former military men to aid the government’s coronavirus response, joining the likes of the National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Earlier this year, Duterte tasked Cimatu to coordinate the evacuation of overseas Filipino workers from the Middle East amid US-Iran tensions.
To date, there are 30,682 COVID-19 cases nationwide, including 8,143 recoveries and 1,177 deaths.
Eased coronavirus lockdowns have been maintained nationwide except for Cebu City, which is placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and Talisay City, which is now under modified ECQ due to high transmission rate and the increasing demand for critical care.
The Queen City of the South is now the top city in the country with the most number of confirmed COVID-19 cases with 3,987, as of the latest data from the Department of Health.
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