Marcos wants country’s situation ‘normalized’ before appointing DOH secretary

President Bongbong Marcos would only appoint a Health Secretary once the situation in the country begins to “normalize” even if the nation continues to be impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He made the statement in a chance interview with reporters on the sidelines of the 48th Philippine Business Conference and Expo at the Manila Hotel on Thursday evening.

“Kapag pwede na natin sabihin sa ating mga kaibigan na mga dayuhan na bumisita kayo dito, maganda na ang Pilipinas, hindi niyo na kailangan ialala yung Covid-19…Paabutin natin doon, and then we will normalize also the reorganization of government…when what I just explained happens. The same as DA (Department of Agriculture) na maayos na, (kapag) normalized na,” Marcos told reporters when asked about when he plans to appoint a Department of Health Secretary.

“The reason is, I want people to understand that this is the government’s work. Not everything is a crisis, so i-normalize natin ang trabaho ng gobyerno. That is what I am trying to do,” he explained.

Before the country’s Health chief is appointed, Marcos said he wants to ensure “that everyday functions are fulfilled, every day without fuss, without bother, without gulo, without fixers, without paying.”

“So that is what I am hoping to get to that point, especially in the DOH and DA,” he noted.

For the President, the government “must no longer treat Covid-19 as an emergency” but as “something that we will have to manage forever.”

Marcos said Covid-19 should be seen as an illness similar to the “flu” or “pneumonia”.

“That is the way we should be handling Covid-19,” he stressed, saying that having this stance would help the country attract investors and tourists.

Despite this, the President believes lifting the state of emergency is not necessary at present.

“Kapag tinanggal ko yung state of calamity, hindi makukuha ng ating mga health workers yung kanilang benepisyo na nasa batas. Hindi tayo makakapag-import ng vaccine,” he said.

“’Yung sa procurement masyadong mabagal ang magiging procurement. Yung indemnification fund na nilagay diyan para kapag nagkaproblema sa paggamit ng vaccine ay mayroon tayong pambayad. All of these will disappear kapag tinanggal yung state of calamity,” he added.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire currently sits as the DOH’s officer-in-charge.

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