MANILA – Malacañang on Friday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to give former military officials a key role in the government’s intensified fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said tapping retired military officers who currently hold high positions in government is necessary because of their “culture of discipline, obedience to superiors, training in organization, tactical strategies in fighting the enemies of the state, and thorough preparedness in organization.”
He issued the statement following the appointments of Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. as chief implementer of the national policy against the Covid-19 outbreak, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Task Force (NTF) Covid-19.
“They (Galvez, Lorenzana, and Año) are not embroiled in bureaucratic rigmaroles. They abhor useless debates. They are silent workers, not voracious talkers. They act without fanfare. They get things done,” Panelo said in a press statement.
As chief implementer, Galvez is tasked to ensure the strict compliance and adherence of the public and private sectors to the guidelines and protocols issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
He is also mandated to protect and promote the safety and welfare of the public at all times, as well as to ensure the efficient and expeditious distribution of government assistance to the public.
Meanwhile, the NTF Covid-19 that is chaired by Lorenzana and vice chaired by Año serves as the operation command and is composed of task groups on response operations, resource management, and strategic communications.
Panelo was confident that Galvez, Lorenzana, and Año’s appointments would compel incumbent officers and personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to follow the orders coming from them “without question and with impartiality.”
He also expressed optimism that the implementation of the protocols, guidelines, and procedures established by the national government would be strictly enforced.
“They will spare no one nor exempt anyone, whether in the private sector or in the government, in applying the law, as well as the restrictions imposed by the Constitution in times of national emergency,” Panelo said.
The entire Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine until April 12 to combat Covid-19.
Panelo said the maintenance of peace and order is necessary amid the implementation of the Luzon-wide community quarantine to ensure that the fight against Covid-19 is effective.
He also noted that Filipinos need men and women “trained in the art of warfare,” considering that the country is in "a state of war against an unseen enemy.”
“We need the PNP and the military as they have the discipline, the organization, the manpower and the equipment to implement the measures that the government has established.
“They will pursue efficiently and swiftly the emergency measures to end the spread of the deadly virus pursuant to the special powers granted to the President by Congress,” Panelo said.
The Philippines has 707 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 45 deaths and 28 recovered cases as of Thursday. (PNA)