MANILA – The Duterte administration’s Covid-19 pandemic response managers have become “very competent” in terms of responding to the ongoing health crisis, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday.
In his commentary show “Counterpoint”, Panelo disagreed with Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson for saying that the government should get “competent people” as members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Panelo said since pandemic caught the world off guard, it was natural for pandemic response managers to grapple on ways to manage and reduce the pandemic’s impact on people.
“Yun pong pandemic ng coronavirus is a new kind of epidemic na lahat ng mundo e nagulat. Nahirapan sila how to deal with it kasi kakaiba e…Madaling sabi, nangapa tayo (Coronavirus is a new kind of epidemic that blindsided the world. We had to grapple with how to deal with it because it’s different. In other words, we struggled),” he said.
However, he noted that a year of dealing with the pandemic has given IATF-EID officials enough experience to address it.
“As we went along, marami ho tayo natutunan…madaling sabi nagtulungan, gumanda ang takbo. Madaling sabi, itong mga andiyan in charge of the rollout, in charge of the vaccine purchase, in charge of implementing the program aba they have become very competent in this field (we learned so much…helped so many people, the way we managed it improved. In other words, the people in charge of the vaccine rollout, purchase, and implementing the program have become very competent in this field),” he said.
Replacing IATF officials, Panelo said, would mean replacing them with unexperienced leaders.
“Nagkaroon na nga ng karanasan e tapos sasabihin ni Senador Ping Lacson ‘palitan natin’. Susmaryosep. Papalitan? Sino ipapalit mo? Yung mga walang karanasan? Mago-on the job training nanaman sila? Mag-isip ka naman, Ping (They already have experience and then Senator Ping goes ‘they should be replaced.’ Replace them? Who are you going to replace them with? Those without experience? Do they have to undergo on the job training? Think for a change, Ping),” he added.
On Monday, Lacson responded to Panelo’s earlier challenge to provide solutions to respond to the pandemic and speed up the procurement of vaccines by urging the government to replace them with new leaders.
“Solution? How about getting competent people? How many opportunities were missed and lost? Who dropped the ball? Who is indecisive? Who has no sense of urgency? Who is making money even in the middle of a pandemic? Think for a change, Sal,” Lacson said in his tweet.
‘You’re the one irrational’
Lacson earlier described Panelo as “irrational” for daring him to step down as senator to help the government’s vaccination program.
“Tsk tsk tsk... Sal, I can see that you are running out of reason kaya (that’s why) you are starting to sound irrational. I am an elected official and I have a contract with the Filipino people to serve for six years,” Lacson said in his tweet.
Panelo provided the same criticism, saying Lacson was “irrational” for making an excuse about having a six-year contract as senator.
“Let me educate you, Mr. Ping Lacson. Yung service to the people has various forms, puwede ka sa executive, puwede ka sa legislature, puwede ka sa judiciary pero yung service ganun pa rin yun, serbisyo publiko pa rin (it can be in the executive, legislature, or judiciary but the service is the same, it’s public service),” he said.
Panelo said Lacson could always step down to join the executive department.
“Hindi ibig may sabihin may kontrata kang anim na taon, hindi ka na puwede umalis (Just because you have a contract of six years doesn’t mean you can’t resign),” he added.
He cited how former Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar resigned to take on responsibilities as secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“Huwag mong sabihin may kontrata ka. Irrational yung pangangatwiran mo. Maling-mali ka (Don’t say you have a contract. That reason is irrational. You’re very wrong),” he added. “Let’s see how you can rationalize, to use your own word, your ‘irrational’ defense of my challenge to you to resign.” (PNA)