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Duque back as new DoH chief

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President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed an old hand in Francisco Duque III as the new Health Secretary, replacing Paulyn Jean Ubial, whose ad interim appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments earlier this month.

Duque, 60, is the current chairman of the Government Service Insurance System and formerly Health secretary during the Arroyo administration from June 2005 to January 2010.

During his term, the DoH earned high approval and satisfaction ratings at the Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys from 2005 to 2009 and a World Health Organization citation for being one of only three countries with excellent risk communication strategies against AH1N1.

Duque was also appointed chairman of the Civil Service Commission where he became pivotal in developing the commission’s Roadmap for Development and Reforms for 2010-2015, a five-year blueprint for priority programs for the country’s 1.4-million workforce.

Prior to his stint at DoH, Duque was president and chief executive officer of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. from 2001 to 2005.

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Duque finished his Bachelor of Science degree major in Zoology in 1978 and post-graduate course in medicine in 1982 at the University of Santo Tomas. He obtained his Master of Science major in Pathology degree from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. in 1987.

Duque's appointment paper was signed by the President and released on Thursday.

In his first stint at the DoH, Duque moved for the historic passage of two major legislations—the Universally Accessible, Affordable Quality Medicine Act of 2008, better known as the Cheaper Medicines Law; and the Food and Drug Administration Law of 2009.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, meanwhile, said Malacañang welcomes Duque’s return to the DoH, pointing out that he is not new to the position.

“We wish him well in his present stint in the government,” Abella said in a statement.

Duque’s appointment also drew positive reactions from the Health department itselt.

In a text message, Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle, who has served as DoH officer-in-charge after Dr. Paulyn Ubial’s appointment was rejected, praised Duque's capability and lengthy experience as a public servant. 

"He is definitely capable and experienced," said Valle who was attending a National Staff Meeting in Iloilo when the announcement was made.

He added that the DOH is ready to move forward under Duque’s able leadership.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Leachon, former president of the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) and current PhilHealth independent director, said, “Secretary Duque is a competent and well experienced public official with unquestionable integrity.”

Leachon added that in his interaction with Duque, he has witnessed the latter’s “professionalism, dedication and vast knowledge of PhilHealth management issues”.

“(Duque) will definitely be a great asset to President Rodrigo Duterte's administration,” he added. With PNA

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