After DOH stint, Duque says he has no plans to return to gov’t service

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (Malacañang photo)

Outgoing Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said he has no more plans to return to government service after his stint as the country's top health official.

“Ay hindi na. Kasi 21 years of my productive years nilaan ko na sa paninilbihan sa gobyerno, sa taong-bayan (Not anymore. I have already dedicated 21 years of my productive years to serving the government, our citizens),” said Duque in a radio interview on Tuesday, June 28.

Duque said he has no regrets serving as DOH chief as the country’s Covid-19 situation has already improved.

He noted that most of the areas in the country are now under Alert Level 1, the government was able to fully-vaccinate more than 70 million individuals, and Filipinos are strictly complying with the health protocols, particularly on the wearing of face masks.

“Mahirap talaga. Pero wala naman akong regrets dahil mahalaga dito maganda yung resulta ng ating paninilbihan ngayon (It's really hard. But I have no regrets because what is important is that the result of our service has been good),” he said.

“Natagumpayan naman natin kahit papaano ang Covid (We somehow managed to win against Covid),” he added.

As his term ends on June 30, Duque said he will return to teaching.

“Magpapahinga ako sandali tapos babalik ako sa educational, sa academe... Oo, magtuturo ako at subukan kong palawigin yung universal health care sa medical and allied medical courses (I will rest for a while and then I will return to education, to academe... Yes, I will teach and I will try to expand universal health care to medical and allied medical courses),” he said.

Next health secretary

The next head of the state health agency must have Covid-19 response experience, said Duque.

“Para sa akin, maganda sana kung malaki din ang naging papel sa ating pandemic response (For me, it would be nice if that person has played a big role in our pandemic response),” he said.

“Kasi nga dapat ipagpauloy ng susunod na administrasyon ang mga naging tagumpay o epektibo na pamamaraan na nagawa ng administrasyon na ito (The next administration must continue the effective methods that this administration has done). They should build on the gains of this present administration and to improve on it,” he said.

Duque said that he has heard names who are being suggested as the next health chief. He believes that they are "qualified" and have "contributed" to the country's Covid-19 response "one way or the other."

Duque first served as Secretary of Health from June 2005 to January 2010 during the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He also served as PhilHealth President and Chief Operating Officer from 2001 to 2005. Moreover, he was also appointed as the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) from 2010 to 2015.

In 2017, President Duterte appointed Duque again as the country's DOH chief.

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has yet to announce his pick for the next DOH secretary.