Marcos names personal physician as FDA head

Published August 3, 2022, 2:58 PM

by Betheena Unite

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos has named Dr. Samuel Zacate, a known public health advocate and his lead physician, as the new chief of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (Photo courtesy of Malacañang)

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles announced Zacate’s designation on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

“Dr. Samuel Zacate is a known public health advocate with years of expertise in medicine and medical consultancy in other government units and offices, including the Public Attorney’s Office, Presidential Security Group Hospital (2009-2022), and others,” Angeles said.

Zacate was also a diplomate of the Philippine Society for Venereology and a fellow of the International College of Surgeons.

Asked if Zacate’s role as the President’s lead physician was a factor in the designation, Angeles said “we’re not sure” given that Zacate is “eminently qualified” for the post.

“If you will look at his qualifications, he is eminently qualified,” the Press Secretary said.

“As you know, to be the FDA head, you have to at least be a doctor or a pharmacist. He is qualified plus he has several distinctions, so we’re not sure if his being a personal physician actually factored into this, considering he ticks all the boxes, meaning lahat ng (all) requirement bilang FDA chief, he fulfills,” she stressed.

Zacate was the lead physician of Marcos when he contracted Covid-19 in July 2022.

New other gov’t officials

Aside from Zacate, four other officials were designated by Marcos to various government offices.

Retired BGen. Roman “Popong” Felix was named as the new secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs.

Felix is a retired police general who served in various offices and units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in regional and national headquarters.

He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy ‘Matikas’ Class of 1983 who is a native of Tuguegarao City in Cagayan Valley Region. He also served as the provincial director of the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office and later Regional director of Ilocos-Pangasinan or Region 1. He is also a licensed and well-trained helicopter pilot.

Retired Major General Ariel Caculitan was tapped as undersecretary for Military Affairs.

Caculitan is a top-caliber military official who served his years in various units of the Philippine Marine Corps and Philippine Navy. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Makatao” Class of 1989 and a top notcher of the AFP Command and General Staff Course Class 45.

He was the 33rd Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC). Among other military posts he commanded were Naval Reserve Force Command, Combat and Service Support Brigade, Marine Corps Force Development Center, and Philippine Peacekeeping Contingent to Haiti from 2009 to 2011.

In 2015, he received the “Best Flying Award” as a naval aviator. He is also an awardee of the “Ten Outstanding Filipino Soldiers” by the Metrobank Foundation.

Retired General Isagani Nerez was also designated as an undersecretary for Police Affairs. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy Maharlika Class of 1984.

Nerez, who is also a lawyer, served in various capacities in the units of the PNP such as the Police Anti-Crime Emergency Response and the Directorate for Integrated Police Operations, Eastern Mindanao. He was also part of the PNP Special Action Force, Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force, and the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group.

Prior to this, he was designated as the Chief of the Baguio City Police Office and became Chief Superintendent of the Cordillera Police Regional Office.

Lawyer Nesauro H. Firme has also been appointed to the Judicial and Bar Council.

Firme is a law professor and a practitioner. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws degree from the Faculty of Civil Law of the University of Santo Tomas. He worked as an Executive Assistant at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

Firme is a senior partner of Oliva Firme and Associates and a former faculty of the Colleges of Law of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and Jose Rizal University, respectively.