IATF to discuss Cebu’s request and come up with a recommendation
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The national Interagency Task Force (IATF) for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) said that they will discuss the request of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia to allow Cebu to impose its policies on its residents.
This includes allowing Cebu residents returning from abroad to undergo a swab-upon-arrival, home quarantine, and swab on the seventh day.
“Ang sinabi naman ni Governor is to consider their request to have a separate for Cebuanos, from those who aren’t Cebuanos. This has to be deliberated upon by the IATF,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque, III.
Duque along with the other IATF officials including Secretary Karlo Nograles, Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez, Jr., Department of Heatlh (DOH) experts, and a World Health Organization (WHO) expert came to Cebu to discuss with the provincial board the differences in the policies relating to Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
The health secretary said that the IATF will convene to discuss these requests and his personal views on the matter is not the only factor in the agency’s decision.
“There is nothing for me to say at this point because we are just here upon the gracious invitation of the governor and the Provincial Board. But by and large, it’s the opinion of the governor. My personal thoughts don’t count, my personal feelings don’t count,” he said.
Secretary Karlo Nograles said that they came to Cebu to explain and to listen in a series of conversations with the Cebu Provincial government.
“On our side, syempre si Pangulo (has the final say), kasi kami din sa IATF we only give recommendations to the President. Our authority emanates from the chief executive himself,” said Nograles.
However, Nograles said that uniformity in the policies is preferable because of the ease of implementation.
“It becomes easier for everybody to implement at the same time. Yet we hear the recommendations being aired out by the policy makers in Cebu. We are willing to talk about it sa IATF, and we are willing to continue the conversation,” said Nograles.
As to whether the IATF will allow Cebu to follow its own policies will depend on the agreement of the entire agency and the final decision of President Duterte.
Duque assured that the IATF is open to learning the best practices in Cebu and how this can be a study for improving the COVID-19 management in the country.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to learn the best practices considered in your province. We have not shut the door to the best practices of your province. I understand the emergency response of Cebu is worth noting…our doors are open,” he said during the session. /rcg
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