MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed former Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to his old post following the Commission on Appointments' rejection of his first health chief Paulyn Ubial.
Duque will return to the cabinet after first serving as health chief from June 2005 to January 2010 under the administration of then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.
Speaking to DZMM radio, the returning health chief said he was offered the post as soon as Ubial's appointment was rejected.
"Inalok lamang sa akin ni Pangulo noong hindi nakumpirma ang ating magaling na naging kalihim na si Secretary Pau Ubial," he told DZMM.
(I was offered the position when former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial's appointment was rejected.)
He said he accepted the offer to help the President and to serve the country.
"Alam mo, siyempre kailangang tulungan natin ang Pangulo natin at maraming problema sa sektor ng kalusugan at siguro naniniwala siya na mayroon naman tayong kakayahan na matugunan itong mga hamon upang mapaigi ang kalusugan ng taumbayan," Duque said.
(You know, of course we have to help the President and we have a lot of problems in the health sector, and maybe he believes that I have the capability to address these challenges to improve the health of the people.)
Once back on board, Duque said he would prioritize the health system in conflict-stricken Marawi City, where more than 200,000 were displaced, some reporting illnesses in evacuation centers.
Government on Monday announced the end of hostilities in the city after five months of conflict between state forces and Islamic State-linked terrorists.
Residents are expected to gradually return in the coming weeks as authorities continued clearing operations.
"Marami tayong aayusin, lalong lalo na ang sistema ng pangkalusugan sa Marawi City. Alam naman natin, talagang matindi ang kinalabasan ng digmaan doon at sisiguraduhin nating ito ang dapat na maitayo muli, maitatag muli ang maayos na health systems," he said.
(We have a lot to fix, especially the health system in Marawi City. We all know the effects of the war and we will ensure that an efficient health system will be reestablished there."
Aside from serving as health chief under Arroyo, Duque also served as chairman of the Civil Service Commission under the Aquino administration.
Duque finished both his undergraduate and post-graduate courses in medicine at the University of Santo Tomas and his masters in pathology at the Georgetown University in the United States in 1987.