MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Dr. Francisco Duque III as Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH).
Duque’s appointment paper was signed by the President and released last week and his appointment was immediately hailed by those in the health sector as well Congress and community leaders due to his sterling performance and accomplishments in government.
DOH employees welcomed his return, with acting health secretary Herminigildo Valle saying, “Duque is well capable and experienced to take on the job as health chief.”
“The DOH is ready to move forward under his able leadership,” Valle said in reaction to Duque’s designation as interim secretary of health.
Duque replaced former health secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial, who was rejected by the Commission on Appointments.
Duque also served as DOH Secretary from June 2005 to January 2010 under the administration of then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. His father, Dr. Francisco Q. Duque, a former governor of Pangasinan, served also as health secretary during the administration of President Diosdado Mapacagal.
Duque said the DOH will be prioritizing the rebuilding of war-torn Marawi City, following the cessation of military operations there.
“Our priority program now is to help build Marawi City. That is what needs to be focused on, especially the damaged health delivery infrastructure,” Duque said.
The returning DOH chief said the agency will also study the sustainability of the national health insurer, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. or PhilHealth which once headed as President and as ex-officio Chairman of the Board.
Asked about additional benefit packages, Duque said “this must be balanced with the actual solvency” of PhilHealth.
“It’s easy to add benefits, but it won’t be right if the life of PhilHealth will be shortened. We want more funds for PhilHealth without raising the contribution rates if possible,” he said.
Another priority of the agency is the lowering of the maternal mortality rate through the improvement of the existing emergency and basic maternal and newborn care programs.
Duque also promised to continue the government’s drug rehabilitation program.
“Drug treatment rehabilitation services must be improved to help drug addicts return to their former lives and society,” he said
Prior to his promotion as health secretary, Duque served as president of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
He was appointed as chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in 2010 and has served as chairman of the board of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) since February 2017.
In his first stint at the DOH, Duque moved for the historic passage of two major legislations – the Universally Accessible, Affordable Quality Medicine Act of 2008, better known as the Cheaper Medicines Law; and the Food and Drug Administration Law of 2009.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Malacañang welcomes Duque’s return to the DOH, pointing out that he is not new to the position.
“We wish him well in his present stint in the government,” Abella said in a statement.