President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is moving closer toward completing his Cabinet as the selection process for the remaining vacant posts is now in the “final evaluation stage,” the Palace said Monday.
“It takes time to evaluate candidates for these positions. I understand this is now going to the final evaluation stage. So, I don’t think it will take too long,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a press briefing.
“There’s no deadline. What we’re saying is that we’re evaluating the candidates very well,” she added.
Marcos, she said, is still looking for qualified people to head the departments of Health, Energy, Science and Technology, Environment and Natural Resources, and Housing and Urban Development.
The Health portfolio, Cruz-Angeles said, is crucial given the ongoing pandemic.
“[It is taking a while] only [because] they’ll have to evaluate it very well and fully. The President is quite aware, and in fact one of the priorities is managing the effects of this pandemic. So, you must also understand that this is so important. They must look very closely and carefully at the candidates,” she added.
A group of nurses urged the President to appoint someone who has “malasakit” or concern for Filipinos as Health chief.
“The next Health Secretary should not only have technical and special skills in public health and administration, but also have a heart for the people,” Filipino Nurses United president Maristel Abenojar said.
“We want someone who can act fast while always consulting constituents, especially the health workers who are partners of DOH in implementing health programs,” she added.
Abenojar also expressed hope the Marcos administration would address the shortage of nurses in public health facilities nationwide.
“We lack nurses because they go abroad. Last December 31, the DOH said 316,405 Filipino nurses are working abroad, and that’s 34 percent of all Filipino registered nurses,” she said.
FNU, she said, is pushing for a P50,000 starting salary for nurses nationwide.
Meanwhile, Cruz-Angeles said there is no official word yet as to when the first Cabinet meeting is going to be held.
“But the secretaries are given the opportunity—those who have been appointed—to make the assessments. These will all be taken into consideration,” she said.
Marcos on Monday attended his first flag raising ceremony in Malacanang where he urged Palace employees—whom he called “partners”—to continue doing their jobs right.
“I know how hard that you work and you do your job without choosing but you just follow whoever the people elect to occupy this Palace,” he said.
“I hope this is the start of a very good working relationship between us.”