By Deighton Acuin and Archie Villaflores

PHOTO: Rappler

Malacañang dismissed calls to abolish the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) amid surging coronavirus infections in the country.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, quoting health officials, said Tuesday the surge of cases can be attributed to the presence of new COVID-19 mutations.

Roque added the decisions made by the IATF — including the imposition of the National Capital Region and four nearby provinces under General Community Quarantine with additional restrictions — are backed by scientific data.

According to the official, the effects of such measures will be felt after two weeks.

“Tanggapin natin o hindi, nag-mutate ang mga virus at hindi naman siguro kasalanan ng IATF na nag-mutate itong mga virus sa pamamaraan na mas nakakahawa sila,” he said in a Palce briefing.

Roque also noted it is not only the Philippines that is experiencing a surge of infections.

Roque’s statement came after Senator Imee Marcos call for the IATF abolition and an appointment of health experts to lead the country’s COVID-19 response by means of a “true and science-based” approach.

Furthermore, Senate President Vicente Sotto III “concurred” Marcos’ proposal, citing the “gross incompetence” of the Department of Health (DOH) in pandemic response.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, called for an overhaul of the IATF members, saying the task force should be led by public health experts and not retired military officials.

However, Roque said the IATF will not be abolished since the members of it are secretaries of the country’s concerned agencies.

“Walang makakapantay pagdating sa human capital ng IATF dahil buong bureaucracy ng gobyerno ay nagsama-sama po para sa ating response sa COVID-19,” he said.

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