“I have a more radical idea in addressing this COVID-19 pandemic,” Villanueva said during the budget hearing at the Senate of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Now speaking partly in Filipino, he said: “As we have seen, the IATF, nothing. It’s not working, Why don’t we just consider removing this IATF. Let’s just give it [the task] to the LGUs [local government units]? They know better.”
“Let’s abolish the IATF. I hope it’s also an option to look into — that the LGUs will be empowered. They know better. They’re doing better — these LGUs — than the national government,” he added.
Villanueva made the proposal after Sen. Sonny Angara pushed for less stringent regulations in restaurants for vaccinated customers and Sen. Imee Marcos sought the scrapping of curfews.
“We’re very much against curfews which I think are a bizarre reaction to the pandemic,” Marcos pointed out during the hearing. “Lockdowns really have to be rethought carefully.”
Angara brought up the sentiments of some restaurants about restrictions on their operations.
“They’re asking that they be given some leeway to provide some regulation for vaccinated diners,” Angara said. “Maybe, the percentage requirement [on customers allowed in at any one time], or the capacity requirements, can be relaxed if they are vaccinated in an enclosed area.”
“Maybe that’s something you can look into and discuss in your meetings,” he asked DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.
Lopez agreed with both Marcos and Angara, saying that curfews should be removed or pushed back “as late as possible.”
“The tourism sector, the restaurant sector — what is really needed here is the policy to reopen more,” he said.