Press Release
February 7, 2018

On the Confirmation of the Appointment of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto
07 February 2018

Mr. President, my dear colleagues:

The nominee is my seatmate in the Arroyo Cabinet, which was when I saw how good a doctor he is.

When I dug into a bag of chicharon, he never lectured me about cholesterol; when wine was served, he saw to it that my glass was always full; and whenever I did my patriotic duty of paying excise taxes - one cigarette puff at a time - he did not break into a sermon about nicotine.

The nominee is first and foremost a physician. But when country calls, he does not shirk from being conscripted to do hard labor in government, as had happened to him seven times in the past.

And as you have read in his impressive CV, not one of his government postings in the past 20 years was cushy.

All had national mandates which require a combination of competence and compassion which only those with a head and a heart, like him, can do.

As Health secretary, he was in charge of the health of the people.

As PhilHealth president, he was the health insurer of us all.

As GSIS chairman, he was steward of billions of pesos in pension assets of millions of public sector workers, including this building, which means that he was for a time the Senate's landlord.

As Civil Service Commission head, he did not only make sure that civil servants gave the best service to the people, but that civil servants also got the best treatment from their government.

Although these offices had different missions, he had only one motto to guide him though all of them; not lengthy mantras nor clever maxims, but three simple words he embraced the day he made treating the sick his life's mission: Do no harm.

And he did no harm indeed.

His integrity remains as lily-white as the doctor's coat he wore in the charity wards of the UST hospital, in the operating rooms of Pangasinan medical centers, in the laboratories of Georgetown University.

"Do no harm" could also be the words in his family's coat of arms, if ever there was one.

He comes from a distinguished family of doctor-servants: his father was the Health secretary during the time of President Diosdado Macapagal, and his mother, of the patriotic Tiongson clan of Bulacan, was also a physician whose other mission was to build world-class schools in Northern Luzon.

So it can be said, Mr. President, that the nominee has a two-person oversight committee looking down from up above to see that he, indeed, will do no harm.

Mr. President, my dear colleagues:

This is the nominee's second time to be the helm of the DOH.

In short, he has been there and done that, unlike many appointees we see today who report to work on training wheels, and whose motto is "Do most harm."

Because of his experience, his training, and his integrity, I can say, with all certainty, that he has been inoculated against any scams that will harm or hurt the DOH and the public it serves.

He can smell a scam miles away with the same ease that he can diagnose a disease without the need for a stethoscope.

Those who doubt this should read what he had done in the DOH, and in other offices, to assuage their fears.

He pursued aggressive MDG goals. He implemented an ethical Milk Code. He modernized hospitals. He purged PhilHealth of many of its conservative stands, among other game-changing initiatives.

As a doctor, he knows what a pill is from a placebo, and can distinguish band-aid solutions from holistic care. He diagnoses diseases and problems the way he tunes up his vintage cars: by getting his hands dirty and going under the hood.

This is the hands-on manager we need at DOH today, one who can solve today's ills while preventing future problems, one who treats the causes and not the symptoms, one who is both curative and preventive in outlook.

It is thus my honor and privilege to endorse the confirmation of the appointment of Francisco 'Pingkoy' Tiongson Duque III as Secretary of Health.

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