Fishers call for ‘revamp’, want the generals in the IATF reassigned to WPS task force

Fishers call for ‘revamp’, want the generals in the IATF reassigned to WPS task force

Manila, Philippines – With the continuing Chinese occupation of the West Philippine Sea, military officials in the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases should be reassigned to the Task Force-West Philippine Sea (TF-WPS) to focus on guarding the sovereignty against China, according to a group of small fishermen as they add their voices to the growing demand for the abolition of the IATF over the latter’s failure to curb the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.

In a statement, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) calls for “revamp” of the IATF by replacing the military generals with “suitable and more competent medical and science experts”, and assign the generals to the TF-WPS, which the group said “seems to be idle amid the continued Chinese aggression in our waters”.

“Military generals must leave the IATF to suitable experts from public health, science, and social welfare sectors. They should instead focus on supervising the TF-WPS and deal with the intensified Chinese aggression which concerns our national sovereignty and territorial rights,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

The group’s call was following the reported presence of now 183 from the previous 200 Chinese vessels believed to be manned by militias in Julian Felipe Reef (Whitsun Reef) in the West Philippine Sea.

“We already witnessed the disaster of letting the military handle a public health situation instead of real experts on the field. It’s been one year since the IATF was established to earmark the health emergency situation and yet the progress remains elusive,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list Representative added.

“But while the military is displaying incompetence in the IATF, the TF-WPS on the other hand, seems to be idle amid the increasing presence of Chinese militia personnel in our territorial waters. Ang pagdepensa sa West Philippine Sea ang dapat atupagin ng mga sundalo,” the fisherfolk leader added.

PAMALAKAYA said that the IATF “requires medical and scientific approach from appropriate experts, not a militaristic solution”. ###

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