Duterte orders Cimatu to lead Covid-19 fight in Cebu

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DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night, June 22, has ordered Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee government efforts in containing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cebu, which has seen a continued increase in the number of infections.

In his televised public address, Duterte said he needed to deploy someone capable of handling the crisis situation believing Cimatu could get the job done.

The President expressed dismay over the chaotic response of Cebu local officials, which compromised public interest.

“So kayong mga taga-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 sisihan nga tapos nobody would answer for anything. To my brothers and sisters in Cebu, both in the city and the provinces, I will send over General Cimatu,” he said.

“So, he will exercise all the powers of that body upon notifying General Lorenzana who heads the agency. All he has to do is just to advise Manila that . . . here, these things are being done, these things are not yet done and these things must be done,” Duterte elaborates.  

He further explained that Cimatu’s task is to assess the situation in Cebu, identify the problem, and make recommendations for an effective government response.

To contain the outbreak in Cebu, President Duterte also ordered the Department of Health (DOH), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the National Task Force to assist Cimatu.

“At saka ‘yung kung talagang may i-lockdown man, uniform talaga and this has to be enforced by the police. Kung magkulang ng tao, then, Secretary Cimatu has the liberty of calling upon the military guys to help,” he said.

Cimatu, a former military officer, said he was honored to be able to help others and save lives.

“I fully accept the challenge you gave for Cebu, Mr. President. Just like the orders you gave to me before — to go to Boracay and we changed the cesspool image sa Boracay into what it is now,” he told the President.

“Senator Bong talked to me and I said this is really an honor for me because probably this is fate or destiny, Mr. President, to be doing things to save the lives of some people in Cebu at this time of the pandemic,” he added.

As of June 21, Cebu City has 3,733 COVID-19 cases, the highest number of infections nationwide, according to the DOH. -PND

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