The Daily Manila Shimbun


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Palace says health sector being consulted in drafting policies vs COVID-19

September 15, 2020

Malacanang belittled on Tuesday criticisms that health experts and medical groups are not being consulted whenever the government comes out with policies related to coronavirus pandemic.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement amid the apparent division among the members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on reducing the physical distancing inside public transport from one meter to 0.75 meter.

"That's not true. The DOH (Department of Health) remains as the lead agency of the IATF, it's being led by a doctor, Dr. (Francisco) Duque (III)," he said, adding that the other DOH officials include epidemiologist and all Health undersecretaries are doctors.

"Of course, all are helping because we are employing the one nation approach when it comes to this pandemic," he added.

Most of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet members who are also with the IATF are retired military generals. 

There were criticisms, especially from the militants and human rights advocates, that the government's COVID-19 response has been militarized. The government, however, denied this.

During the taped televised meeting on Monday night with Duterte, some IATF members have opposing stance over the reduction of physical distancing inside public transport.

The President tasked the members of the IATF to come up with a clearer presentation, including the pros and cons, so that he could come up with a final decision regarding the physical distancing that has to be enforced.

According to Roque, the matter would be discussed in the IATF meeting today.

The Health Professionals Alliance Against COVID had raised concern over the Department of Transportation's policy of lessening the physical distancing inside public transport. The group said this could trigger the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, including death toll, in the country. Celerina Monte/DMS