Status quo in DOH, PH COVID response as Marcos yet to pick next health secretary

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2022 04:27 PM | Updated as of Jul 02 2022 04:30 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said there would be no changes in policies and in the country's COVID-19 response in the agency in the absence of a health secretary. 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has yet to name his health chief, who will oversee the country's COVID-19 response in the wake of potentially more transmissible variants and waning population immunity from the virus.

"Our current pandemic response protocols continue to be implemented. Everything is status quo until new directives from our new President come in," the DOH said in a response to reporters' queries.

"The country’s COVID-19 response actions, along with actions for all other non-COVID health matters, continue through senior DOH officials supervising specific bureaus, offices and units. We await and are ready for the announcement of the next Secretary of Health," the statement read. 

In the Marcos administration's first memorandum circular on Friday, the Palace said government agencies where the new President has yet to appoint a secretary or head would be led by an officer-in-charge. That person should be the highest ranking official in the agency. 

The DOH has yet to name its OIC.

Former Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje earlier said Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire will be among those officials staying in the agency under the new administration. 

Vergeire, an undersecretary and a career executive service officer (CESO) II, is also the head of the National Vaccination Operations Center. 

Marcos' press secretary earlier said his office was still screening the names for the one of the country's most crucial job as the health crisis lingered.

"Sinusuri pa po nila, as you know, nagtalaga tayo ng application process at tsaka mayroong proseso para sa pag-eevaluate... hindi puwedeng madiliin yung proseso," Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said Wednesday. 

A private hospitals group had recommended government adviser Dr. Ted Herbosa as the next health secretary.