There is no need to replace Secretary Roy Cimatu as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) even after President Rodrigo Duterte tasked him to oversee government efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Cebu City, Malacanang said on Tuesday.
Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace did not see the need to replace Cimatu, who was instructed by the President on Monday to identify what needs to be done to improve the COVID-19 situation in the city.
“Maraming beses na po na binigyan ng special mission ang ating Secretary of DENR at hindi naman po kinailangan na magtalaga ng kapalit sa DENR. So status quo po. He remains Secretary of DENR,” Roque said in a televised briefing on Tuesday.
Cimatu, a former military chief, has handled the repatriation of Filipinos in the Middle East following tensions between the United States and Iran early this year.
Roque also expressed hope that Cimatu’s new assignment will be brief.
“Hopefully po the assignment will be as short as possible para po bumalik sa GCQ (general community quarantine) man lang ang Cebu City at ang Talisay,” he said.
Cebu City has the highest number of COVID-19 cases nationwide at 3,733 as of June 21, while Central Visayas has the second-highest number of infections among all regions with 5,667, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
During the last 14 days alone, the DOH logged 1,277 new cases in Cebu City and 2,030 in the entire Region VII.
The DOH also earlier identified 13 new clusters of infection in Cebu City.
Duterte on Monday took to task the Cebuanos for being too slow in complying with the national government’s measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Duterte said Cebuanos are hardheaded, too confident and complacent about the situation.
Cebu City is currently under enhanced community quarantine./Stacy Ang