By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto urged the government to reinforce the membership of the Inter-Agency Task Force Against Emerging Infectious Disease Management as signs of pandemic machinery in trouble and a nation in danger.
In a statement, Recto said that COVID is fast and furious while the vaccine rollout is slow and sputtering, so we must not only “change the oil but also the driver.”
“Hindi lang change oil ang kailangan, mukhang change engine na rin,” Recto said
Recto said that if after a year, the current one is not bringing us to where we want to be, then it is time to build a better one.
“It is time to expand the membership of IATF, to include those in private business with superb managerial skills, such as those who have been running companies with a million moving parts with efficiency and precision,” Recto said.
Under EO 168 that created it, the leadership of the IATF remains an all-government affair, chaired by the Secretary of Health with the Secretaries of the DFA, DILG, DOJ, DOLE, DOT, and DOTC (now DOTR) as members.
The private sector also has no permanent seat on the table in the National Task Force for COVID-19, the command center that is headed by the Secretary of National Defense, he said.
To cite one skill set, Recto said that the war against COVID requires logistics experts who supply a customer base numbering in the tens of millions, like that bakery in Laguna that every day brings millions of pieces of perishable bread to store shelves from Aparri to Zamboanga in a matter of hours.
“Kung may reinforcement man sa IATF, huwag lang po sana MDs—mga Military Dati—kasi quota na po ang sector na ito,” he said.
“My friend and former Cabinet seatmate, Pingkoy Duque, a car fancier and Formula 1 follower (kaya nga F4 ang branding ng kanyang flagship programs), knows that when a car is not winning races and is last in the vaccine race, it is time to replace the engine—and the driver,” the senator from Batangas said.
“He knows that drivers are not so welded to the steering wheel that they become irreplaceable,” he added.
Recto said that secretaries Duque and Galvez can remain within the IATF, but with new roles. “They can be one of the pistons of a new, smarter engine that will have more cylinders, but no longer its ECU, its computer brain.”
“Having reinforced the IATF, it is time to put a new man on the driver’s seat,” he said
But even the best car, he added, that more so the one that will bring us out of this crisis, cannot run on autopilot.
“There should be a stronger Malacañang team that will direct the war against COVID round-the-clock, whose diagnostic equipment is plugged into the nation’s COVID fighting machine so that adjustments are made and trouble fixed in real-time,” Recto ended. (AI|MTVN)