Department of Health

‘Not a job for amateurs,’ group says as ex-PNP chief joins DOH

Bonz Magsambol
‘Not a job for amateurs,’ group says as ex-PNP chief joins DOH

CAMILO CASCOLAN. File photo of former PNP chief Camilo Cascolan

Photo by PIO NCRPO

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Health Workers says the appointment of former police chief Camilo Cascolan is a 'huge insult to our health experts who are most qualified to administer and run the affairs of the DOH'

MANILA, Philippines – Progressive group Akbayan on Monday, October 24, denounced the appointment of former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Camilo Cascolan as undersecretary of the Department of Health (DOH), saying that the position was “not a job for amateurs and first timers.”

“The current health crisis is not a law enforcement problem. Let us not forget how the previous administration bungled its COVID-19 response and management by appointing ex-military people who didn’t possess a single iota of experience or training in public health. Millions of Filipinos suffered. The people cannot afford the new administration to repeat this fatal debacle,” Akbayan said in a statement sent to media.

The group said that the position Cascolan occupied is “specialized field” and is not something that the former PNP chief can “just learn while doing his responsibilities.”

“We cannot have a public official who will be taught the basics by his subordinates while he is expected to lead, craft a vision, and make critical decisions for those under him. This is a proven recipe for incompetence and disaster,” they added.

On Sunday, October 23, the Alliance of Heath Workers also slammed the appoinment of Cascolan, saying that it was a “huge insult to our health experts who are most qualified to administer and run the affairs of the DOH.”

“AHW believes that PBBM’s appointment of Cascolan is a clear manifestation of the President’s extreme lack of concern for the lives, health, safety and welfare of the health workers and the entire Filipino nation,” the group said.

“Cascolan’s appointment is a huge insult to our health experts who are most qualified to administer and run the affairs of the DOH,” they added.

Cascolan’s appointment comes as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has yet to appoint his health secretary, a crucial cabinet position which needs someone to spearhead the country’s exit out of the health crisis. Although he designated Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, a career official, to be the officer-in-charge.

Must Read

Marcos’ 100 days: No DOH secretary, unpaid health workers’ benefits

Marcos’ 100 days: No DOH secretary, unpaid health workers’ benefits

The AHW said they were “deeply concerned” by Cascolan’s appointment as the retired General is known to be one of the brains behind the Duterte government’s bloody drug war.

“Cascolan crafted the Oplan Double Barrel, the police’s bible in anti-drug operations under the Duterte administration which institutionalized the Oplan High-Value Target and Oplan Tokhang. The anti-drug campaign has killed thousands of Filipinos and victims have been deprived of justice up to now,” the group said.

“Health workers prefer an undersecretary who has a clean tract record, not a red-tagger, one whose hands are not tainted with the bloody drug war and one who truly upholds the rule of justice. They want to work with a health undersecretary who is an expert in eradicating deadly and infectious diseases, not an expert in violating human rights and extrajudicial killings,” the AHW added.

The former PNP chief spent a significant chunk of his career leading police stations in various parts of the Philippines, including Taguig City, the province of Compostela Valley which has since been renamed to Davao de Oro, and towns in Iloilo.

Cascolan is also among the generals considered to be part of Duterte’s trusted circle called “Davao boys.”

‘Slap on the face’

Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Representative France Castro also slammed Cascolan’s appointment, saying that it was a “slap on the face of dedicated and qualified health care practitioners who were by-passed for the position.”

“What is Gen. Cascolan’s qualification for the health portfolio anyway? Mamanmanan ba ‘nya ang mga progresibong health workers groups o babarilin ba nya ang COVID-19 virus? (Will he be monitoring the progressive health groups or fire shots at the COVID-19 virus?),” asked Castro.

She then reiterated calls for the President to appoint a health secretary as soon as possible.

Ang kailangan ngayon na panahon pa din ng pandemya ay isang mahusay at mapagkakatiwalaang health secretary at hindi isang Tokhang general na kasama sa nagbalangkas ng Oplan Double Barrel at pumatay sa libu-libo nating kababayan,” said the progressive leader.

(What we need in this time of the pandemic is a qualified and trustworthy health secretary, and not a Tokhang general who was part of those who drafted the Oplan Double Barrel that killed thousands of Filipinos.)

The DOH has yet to give information on the assignment of Cascolan at the department. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

author

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.