Manila – The Commission on Appointments (CA) has unanimously confirmed the interim appointments of Teodoro Herbosa as Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) and Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. During the deliberation, Herbosa addressed concerns from CA members, including the issue of the health emergency allowance (HEA) backlog for healthcare workers. He assured that the government has allocated PHP22 billion for 2024 to address this issue and expects to clear all HEA payments within three years.
According to Philippines News Agency, Herbosa also assured that the Philippines remains safe amid the rising number of respiratory illnesses globally, attributing the local increase in such cases to the seasonal nature of respiratory illnesses. He recommended continued adherence to health protocols, including mask-wearing, social distancing, and keeping infected children at home. The CA Committee on Health, chaired by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, began deliberating Herbosa’s appointment last September. Go confirmed that there was no opposition to Herbosa’s nomination but noted that urgent questions requiring detailed responses delayed the approval process. Previously, Herbosa served as a special adviser to the National Task Force Against Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Laurel, in his address to the CA, emphasized alignment with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and the Cabinet’s approach, focusing on a whole-of-society and whole-of-country strategy. He highlighted the importance of staying informed about on-the-ground realities and maintaining constant communication with farmers and fisherfolk. Laurel pledged to combat food hoarding, price manipulation, and smuggling, following directives from the President to clean up the Department of Agriculture, pursue smugglers, and boost food production.
Laurel is known for his leadership of Frabelle Fishing Corp., which started as a small trawl fishing company in 1966 and has grown into one of the leading deep-sea fishing companies in the Asia-Pacific region. The company, founded by Laurel’s parents, began with two fishing vessels and now operates around 150. It gained recognition in 1972 as a top supplier for local canned tuna makers.