Press Announcement:

HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, congratulated and expressed its support for Francisco Duque III, who has just been appointed Health Secretary by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“We congratulate Francisco Duque III for once again being appointed Health Secretary. We assure him of our full support as he proceeds to make the desired changes in the Health Department, as well as continue the good ones that his predecessors have instituted, all for the good of the Filipino people,” said Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, President of HealthJustice Philippines.

Duterte signed Duque’s appointment papers last October 26. The appointment came after Paulyn Jean Ubial, Duterte’s first appointee to the post, failed to get the nod of the Commission of Appointments (CA) after three hearings.

Duque was the president and CEO of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) from 2001 to 2005. He afterwards served as Health Secretary from 2005 to 2010 under the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He was appointed thereafter as the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) by former President Benigno Aquino III. He led the CSC from 2010 to 2015. In 2014, Duque was recognized by the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) as People Manager of the Year in Public Sector. With Duque at its helm, CSC was named Employer of the Year by the same body a year after.

“Secretary Duque was the Health Secretary when the DOH CSC JMC 2010-01 was signed. We hope that he will push for the stronger enforcement of this memorandum circular, which prohibits interaction between the government and all its branches and instrumentalities and the tobacco industry unless strictly necessary and solely for the purpose of monitoring compliance with the law,” Fernandez Mendoza pointed out.

“We hope that the Health Department, under Duque’s leadership, will implement programs that encourage healthy lifestyles and having a healthy diet, or those that place greater importance on developing a healthier body as opposed to just focusing on the treatment of diseases. We know Duque, a physician, would agree that, as the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound cure,” Fernandez Mendoza added.

HealthJustice is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner of the NCD Alliance, an international network of experts, organizations, and research institutions working to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases, plenty of which have been associated with direct and indirect consumption of tobacco products.