Hontiveros pushes for IATF overhaul, with public health officers, not military, at helm
MANILA, Philippines — Citing a “system-wide failure,” Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday called for an immediate overhaul of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease, saying that it should be led by public health officers and not military officers.
Hontiveros said that leaders and members of the IATF should be replaced with public health experts “who actually know how to handle a public health emergency.”
“The extreme call is to abolish the IATF, but during a pandemic, an interagency body is necessary. It must be led by public health experts and epidemiologists. Not by military officers,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“This is a system-wide failure. The IATF has continuously and confidently walked in the wrong direction, backward, no matter how many times the public and lawmakers have called them out,” she added.
Hontiveros said the members of the task force “do not know what they are doing and are not listening to experts.”
“In denial din sila sa mga pagkukulang nila, kaya hindi maaayos yung pandemic response natin. We must undertake a complete management overhaul of the IATF,” Hontiveros said.
“We need health experts who will lead the way, just like in other countries. We need a team of public health managers who understand that we need a systematic health approach and have the expertise to accomplish their mandate of effectively and scientifically controlling the coronavirus,” she added.
Hontiveros said that while the IATF is important, “it cannot be led by incompetent and short-sighted decision-makers.”
“Stop forcing the Filipino people to martyr themselves just to keep a few in positions of power. The public has put up long enough with the IATF’s gross mishandling of the most basic solutions of test, trace, isolate and treat,” she said.
“It has come to a point in which their failures are inexcusable and unforgivable. Overhaul the IATF immediately,” the senator added.
The proposed abolition of the IATF was backed by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, citing what he said is the “gross incompetence” of the Department of Health (DOH) in handling the pandemic. –Liezelle Soriano Roy, Trainee
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