Palace dared to appoint Robredo as COVID-19 task force chair

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 19) — Former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Friday challenged Malacañang to appoint Vice President Leni Robredo as the head of the government's COVID-19 task force following the comments of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque was quoted in a television interview suggesting Robredo should offer solutions on how to ensure locally-stranded individuals will not test positive for COVID-19 when they arrive in their hometowns instead of allegedly criticizing the government's response.

Trillanes, a critic of the Duterte administration, said the government should consider asking Robredo to lead the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Kung si Vice President Leni ang mamumuno at magpapatakbo ng IATF, mas marami itong magagawa at siguradong mas maganda ang kampanya natin laban sa COVID-19,” he said.

[Translation: If Vice President Leni leads the IATF, she can do more and our COVID-19 response will be more effective.]

The IATF is led by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who is currently being investigated by the Ombudsman for alleged irregularities and anomalies in his department's COVID-19 response.

Roque rejected Trillanes' challenge, claiming the former lawmaker twisted his words.

"She is helping in her own ways and if her intentions are genuine, there is no need for her to be appointed or designated in the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF)," he said in a statement posted by state media PTV.

He clarified he is not downplaying Robredo's efforts in helping Filipinos in need amid the COVID-19 crisis. He said the Vice President can submit her suggestions on how to ensure that those who earlier tested negative for COVID-19 in Metro Manila will not test positive once they reached their provinces. Roque said he would be "more than willing to submit her proposed solutions" to the task force.