Appointment of former PNP leader Cascolan to DOH post raises eyebrows

Camilo Cascolan
The undated file photo shows then-police Lt. Gen. Camilo Cascolan. (The STAR/File Photo)

Medical workers and other Filipinos have raised concerns over the appointment of a former Philippine National Police chief as one of the undersecretaries of one of the most crucial government agencies dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19.

The health department on Sunday confirmed the appointment of the retired PNP leader Camilo Cascolan as Undersecretary, along with attorney Charade Mercado-Grande.

Others named include Maria Lourdes Caballero Santiago (Director IV), Girlie Enriquez Veloso (Director IV), Maria Joyce Udtuhan Ducusin (Director III), and Sophia Macaranas Mancao (Director III).

The health agency said it would provide more details on the new appointments as soon as possible.

Cascolan thanked the president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the new position, saying that “you don’t have to be a doctor to be assigned to the DOH.”

“Administration and management will always be part of every government department and I believe I will be of great help in this area. What is important is that the government program is implemented with the directive of the ICO Sec. DOH,” the former PNP chief reportedly said, referring to the officer in charge.

The position of health secretary remains vacant, the under-secretary of health Maria Rosario Vergeire acting as head of the agency since July.

A memo said she was to serve until July 31 or until Marcos officially appoints a DOH chief.

Marcos previously said he would only appoint a health secretary if the COVID-19 pandemic situation had “normalized”.

“Sa ngayon, naghahanap kami ng paraan para nga ma-normalize na natin and hindi na natin kailangan sabihin na ang Pilipinas, state of calamity pa rin, para masabi natin sa ating potential investor, ‘Pumunta kayo rito sa Pilipinas, maayos na’, “, added Marcos.

“Paabutin natin doon and then we will also normalize the whole government reorganization,” he added.

Who is Cascolan?

Cascolan served as leader of the PNP under the Duterte administration from September to November 2020.

Despite his short stint, Cascolan was the co-author of the PNP”Oplan Double Barrelcampaign, the police’s flagship campaign against illicit drugs.

This campaign involves controversy”Oplan Tokhanglinked to the thousands of deaths of drug-related suspects under the former president Rodrigue Dutertedrug war program.

In February 2021, reports indicated that Cascolan had been appointed as Undersecretary of the President’s Office.

The retired PNP leader is part of the Philippine Military Academy‘s Sinagtala Class of 1986, with former PNP leaders Senator Bato dela Rosa and Oscar Albayalde.

Cascolan also holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines-Visayas.

“Huge insult”

Cascolan’s appointment as DOH Undersecretary has been condemned by groups such as the Health Worker Alliance (AHW) and the Philippine Medical Students Association (PMSA) who questioned his background before the health-related post.

“Cascolan’s appointment is a huge insult to our health care experts who are most qualified to administer and manage the affairs of DOH,” AHW said in a statement.

He added that health workers “prefer an undersecretary who has a clean record, not a red tagger, one whose hands aren’t stained with the bloody war on drugs and one who truly upholds the rule of justice. “.

“Thus, AHW asserted that Cascolan’s appointment is contrary to the DOH’s mandate to ensure the provision of quality health care services that every Filipino people deserves and to maintain the quality of life, respect for human dignity and to protect the health and safety of health workers and the Filipino people,” the group said.

The PMSA also called Cascolan’s appointment “disparaging and offensive to the medical discipline at best”, adding that he was an “inexperienced person outside the health field”.

Some individual Pinoys also expressed their reaction on social media.

“BAKIT appoints retired police general to date PNP leader as DOH UNDERSECRETARY?!!! PAKIPALIWANAG nga”, doctor Gene Nisperosmember of the board of directors of the Community Medicine Development Foundation, said.

The doctor was among the first to tell the public about Cascolan’s appointment.

“But managing public health is different from managing public order. Or unless the job has something to do with shopping? I’m just asking,” another twitter user wrote.

“The anger and frustration I feel for all the health workers who have studied for years to become experts in their field, only to be replaced by a former PNP chief who knows nothing of this. Make sense,” another commented. Pinoy.

The Undersecretary

According to the Administrative Code of 1987, an Under-Secretary has a duty to “advise and assist the Secretary in the formulation and implementation of departmental objectives and policies”.

He must also “supervise all the operational activities of the service for which he is responsible to the secretary”.

An undersecretary must also “coordinate the programs and projects of the department and be responsible for its economical, efficient, and effective administration.”

He/she must also “serve as assistant to the secretary in all matters relating to the operations of the department”.

An Under-Secretary also has the role of “temporarily discharging the duties of the Secretary in the event of the latter’s absence or inability to perform his duties for any reason whatsoever or in the event of a vacancy in the said position, except as provided contrary to the law”.

“Where there is more than one Under-Secretary, the Secretary shall apportion the aforementioned powers and duties among them. The President shall also appoint the Acting Secretary provisionally from among them,” the code reads.

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