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Duterte taps Davao City hospital chief as health undersecretary

Pia Ranada
Duterte taps Davao City hospital chief as health undersecretary
The President appoints doctor Leopoldo Vega into the Department of Health after threatening to fire officials over the delay in the compensation of health workers affected by COVID-19

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Leopoldo Vega, head of a public hospital in his hometown of Davao City, as health undersecretary.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque confirmed the appointment in a message to reporters on Friday, June 5.

Roque did not say who Vega will be replacing at the Department of Health (DOH). Rappler has asked for comment from the department but is yet to receive a reply.

In a taped briefing aired Friday morning, Duterte said he would fire DOH officials responsible for the delay in giving sickness and death compensation to health workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Vega is chief of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), a hospital in Davao City which Duterte himself has frequented whether for health concerns or for events. 

Vega has been SPMC chief for 12 years or since 2008.

Duterte is known to visit the hospital’s Childrens Cancer Institute during the Christmas season to cheer up its young patients. 

In 2019, Vega was again among the hospital executives who welcomed the President to the center. 

Recently, Vega was interviewed by state media about Senator Bong Go’s donations to the hospital’s health workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. – with a report from Bonz Magsambol/

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at