Duterte orders DENR Secretary Cimatu to oversee COVID-19 response in Cebu City

Marje Pelayo
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee the government’s COVID-19 response in the hard-hit city of Cebu. 

During his recorded public address on Monday evening (June 22), the President noted the conflict among local government officials in the city amid the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Cebu.

The city reverted to enhanced community quarantine on June 15 while the city of Talisay was placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until June 30 due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 infection and a high utilization rate in the city’s critical care capacity. 

Kayong mga taga-Cebu (To the people of Cebu), it’s not that I do not trust your ability but rather I said it’s the penchant to go into a sort of a sisihan (blame-shifting) then nobody would answer for anything,” the President said. 

So mga kaigsuonan nako sa Cebu, both sa mga siyudad og probinsya, akong ipadala si General Cimatu (To my brothers in Cebu, both at the city level and provincial level, I am sending General Cimatu). All he has to do not for permission but just to advise Manila here that these things are being done, these things are not yet done and these things must be done,” he added.

President Duterte asked concerned agencies like the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as well as the National Task Force against COVID-19 to extend their assistance to Cimatu in his new role.

Cimatu, for his part, promised to do his best to help solve the problem in Cebu. 

“Thank you Mr. President for giving me the opportunity to go to Cebu. I’ll do my best,” he said. 

In the end, President Duterte said the people of Cebu had been “too confident and too complacent” towards the pandemic.

“Iyong mga taga-Cebu, bakit marami (To the Cebuanons,how come you have too many cases)? Because you were too confident and too complacent about it. Parang binalewala ninyo kaya dumating (You took it lightly that’s why),” the President noted. 

Based on the latest report of the DOH, Cebu City has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases among all cities across the country. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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