Hontiveros seeks probe on Cabinet members playing ‘Big Brother’ to LGUs
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros is calling on the Senate to investigate the move of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to assign Cabinet secretaries to Metro Manila cities and several nearby provinces to monitor their pandemic response.
“This is toxic micromanagement. There are even reports that cabinet members intervene at the barangay level,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Monday.
“The IATF members, while arguably experts in their respective fields, are not experts nor do they have any experience in health system performance, critical care capacity, and surveillance, isolation, and treatment protocols. Baka sila pa nga ang turuan ng mga mayor,” she added.
Hontiveros sough a Senate inquiry through Senate Resolution No. 495 urging the proper committee to investigate, in aid of legislation, IATF Resolution No. 62, which assigned IATF member-Cabinet secretaries to various local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal.
The senator said it was “imprudent” for the IATF to designate Cabinet members to monitor LGUs when the task force “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.”
The Senate, Hontiveros noted, has previously raised concerns about the procurement of allegedly overpriced personal protective equipment (PPE), the Department of Health’s “erroneous” COVID-19 data, as well as the credibility of IATF’s chairperson, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, particularly his “flip-flop” pronouncements on the wave of COVID-19 infections in the country.
This, she said, should have 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,” Hontiveros said. “What the LGUs need is a coherent national COVID management strategy, not undue interference.”
Further, the lawmaker questioned the rationale behind how the Cabinet members were assigned to their respective LGUs.
“Bakit si Sec. Harry Roque naka-assign sa Pasay? Shouldn’t he be focusing on his job as a presidential spokesperson? At bakit si Sec. Duque sa Quezon City, when as Secretary of the Department of Health, he should be overseeing the overall management of the COVID-19 response?” 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 assigned in Quezon City, when as Secretary of the Department of Health, he should be overseeing the overall management of the COVID-19 response?)
“At bakit pagkatapos i-assign si [Cabinet] Sec. [Karlo] Nograles sa Quezon City din, sinabi niya na ang mga residente ng QC ay maaaring sumali sa clinical trials ng vaccine galing sa Russia? Iyan ba ang plano nila? Mukhang wala namang datos o siyensiya sa pagdesisyong ito,” she added.
(And why is Sec. Nograles saying that QC residents may be qualified to join clinical trials for the vaccine developed by Russia after he was assigned there? Is that their plan? There’s no data or science behind this decision.)
Hontiveros said the national government should trust LGUs to handle the pandemic, being more knowledgeable about the situation on the ground.
“Ang mga mayor ang mas may alam at matagal nang umaaksyon sa ground. Dapat gawin nalang mismo ng IATF ang mandato nito na magbigay ng buo at maayos na istratehiya, plano, at suporta,” she stressed.
(The mayor’s know the real situation because they have always been the ones on the ground. The IATF should just stick to their mandate of creating concrete and effective strategy, plan and support.)
“Sana huwag mawalan ng kumpiyansa ang ating mga mayor dahil sa walang basehan na panghihimasok na ito. Kitang-kita naman ng publiko ang mga inisyatibo na pinangunahan ng mga LGU. Sa katunayan, ang mga proyekto at programa ng mga lokal na pamahalaan ang mas naramdaman ng mga kababayan natin ngayong may krisis,” she added.
(I hope our mayors won’t lose confidence because of this baseless interference. The public sees the initiatives being undertaken by the LGUs. In fact, it is the projects and programs of the local government that the public felt the most during this crisis.)
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