President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday expressed his utmost satisfaction with the performance of the temporary heads of different agencies, foremost of which are the Departments of Health (DOH) and the Department of the National Defense (DND).
Mr. Marcos, in a chance interview in Quezon City, said he is not yet keen on appointing new health and defense chiefs since DOH officer-in-charge (OIC) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire and DND OIC Undersecretary Jose Faustino Jr. are able to fulfill their respective mandates.
The President said he would let Vergeire lead the DOH in the meantime, considering that the acting health chief is “doing a fine job.” He added that he is being “careful” because the country is still grappling with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Wala pa kaming DOH. Wala pa kaming inino-nominate. (We have yet to nominate someone as DOH secretary). Usec. Vergeire is doing a fine job. Let her do [the work for now] kasi (because) we are still not out of the pandemic. So, we have to continue to be careful,” Marcos said.
“For the Department of Agriculture, the Department of National Defense, I think, I am very happy with the situation as it is now. We’ll see. These things are revisited, especially every year at the end of the first year. I don’t think that’s a secret to anyone that at the end of the first year, the other nominees, they will now join the mix of possible nominees,” he added.
The current DND-OIC is Senior Undersecretary Jose Faustino, a former Armed Forces chief of staff and member of the Philippine Military Academy’s “Maringal Class” of 1988.
Mr. Marcos also vouched for the competence of Faustino who could only serve as DND OIC because of a one-year appointment ban. He said he is set to review the list of candidates for the DND top post.
The President was earlier asked if he would appoint a secretary to the DA. The President, who concurrently holds the agriculture portfolio, said he has a timetable in DA, and there are certain things that he would like to achieve before leaving the department.
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte on Thursday meanwhile expressed confidence that the legacy of the late labor secretary and Senate President Blas Ople as the architect of the Philippine government’s overseas employment program will live on with the appointment of his daughter, Ma. Susana Ople, as the first ever head of the newly created Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
The younger Ople had founded the Blas Ople Policy Center (BOPC), which provides assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially those who are being maltreated by their foreign employers, Villafuerte
She had been involved, too, in radio programs advancing OFW interests.
Villafuerte noted at a recent committee hearing of the Commission on Appointments (CA) that, “I’ve known her (Ople) for over 10 years, and her heart and dedication for our countrymen, especially our migrant workers, is in her blood, in her heart, in her soul.