MEETING WITH IATF. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members prior to his talk to the people at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on March 22, 2021. Malacañang on Tuesday (March 23) said retired military officers are the best people to lead the government’s Covid-19 response and vaccination rollout because of their expertise in logistics. (Presidential photo by King Rodriguez)

MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday insisted that retired military officers are the best people to lead the government’s Covid-19 response and vaccination rollout because of their expertise in logistics.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after an opposition senator called for an overhaul of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), saying that it should be led by public health officers and not ex-military officers.

Aside from their knowledge in logistics, Roque explained that ex-military officers were leading the IATF because they were also appointed as members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet.

“Wala naman pong na-appoint sa IATF outside of yung mga secretaries at mga namumuno ng opisina. Totoo po maraming mga military pero isang dahilan po kung bakit nagtitiwala ang ating Presidente ay dahil magaling po sa logistics ang ating mga military (No one has been appointed to the IATF outside of the secretaries and heads of office. It’s true that there are a lot of military who are members but one reason why the President trusts them is because the military excels in logistics),” he said in a virtual press briefing.

Roque pointed out that National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez, who is also vaccine czar, also possesses an impressive set of qualifications.

“Kung ang pinag-uusapan ay hindi naman yung papaano mag-ma-manufacture ng bakuna, kung hindi paano makakarating ang bakuna sa lalong mabilis na panahon sa panahon na ang mga mayayaman ay na-corner na yung 80 porsiyento ng mga bakuna na ginagawa ng mga Western countries siyempre po sa tingin ng Presidente at sa tingin ko naman, tama ang Presidente, ang pinaka magaling na italaga diyan ay isang dating militar, dating chief of staff, dating hero ng Marawi, si Secretary Carlito Galvez (If we’re talking about the fast delivery of vaccines when 80 percent of countries have already pre-ordered vaccines of course the President and I think that the best person for the job is an ex-military, ex-chief-of-staff, and hero of Marawi, Secretary Carlito Galvez),” he added.

He also noted that Galvez has a master’s degree in Project Management major in System Modelling and Project Scheduling from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

A master’s degree in Project Management involves the successful completion of projects by directing them from start to finish. The degree requires skills in budgeting, time management and communication.

“Importante po malaman ng taongbayan ‘yan dahil hindi nila alam na kaya kayo itinalaga ni Presidente hindi lang dahil sa kayo ay war hero kung hindi mayroon po talaga kayong advance training dun sa isang field na kinakailangan pagdating sa logistics, pag-aangkat ng ating mga bakuna (It’s important for the public to know that the President did not only appoint him because he’s a war hero but because he has advanced training in the field necessary for logistics for the procurement of vaccines),” Roque said.

Besides Galvez, there are three other ex-military officers leading the government’s Covid-19 response including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (NTF Chair), Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano (NTF Vice Chair), and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu (Cebu City Covid-19 Response Overseer).

Duterte himself said he preferred to appoint ex-military officers because they were “competent”, “honest” and “followed orders.”

Currently, over 60 former military officers currently hold ranking positions under the Duterte administration.

Senator Risa Hontiveros earlier described the IATF as a “system-wide failure”, saying its leaders and members should be replaced with public health experts “who actually know how to handle a public health emergency.”

“The extreme call is to abolish the IATF but during a pandemic, an interagency body is necessary. It must be led by public health experts and epidemiologists. Not by military officers,” she said in a statement. (PNA)