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Cascolan cites strength useful as DOH official

Former Philippine National Police chief Camilo Cascolan on Monday defended his appointment as undersecretary of the Department of Health, which drew sharp criticism from some groups, including medical workers, even as lawmakers, including a former Health Secretary, backed him up.

“Managing health is not just about medical knowledge. There are many doctors in the institution but balancing science and management and strategy is very important,” Cascolan said in a statement.

Cascolan said he conceptualized the COVID-19 task force and headed its administrative support. He also created the medical reserve force in the PNP, which took charge of the RT-PCR testing centers in some mega quarantine facilities during the lockdown.

“I started COVID protocols in the initial stage when everybody was in a quandary,” Cascolan said.

“(Health) being a devolved service, my experience on the ground and working with LGUs is also a factor that can bring the department closer to the people,” he added.

Cascolan found an ally in former Health Secretary and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, who welcomed his appointment.

“The delivery of health services is not just about doctors and scientists working together,” Garin said.

“What is equally important is reaching the grassroots and feeling their pulse. The management skills of General Cascolan has long been proven in his several years of untainted service. Quick and timely response during calamities as well as coordinated implementation of programs under a devolved healthcare, not to mention the gigantic task of logistics and planning, are important factors in DOH,” she added.

The Alliance of Health Workers, however, questioned Cascolan’s qualifications.

“Cascolan’s appointment is a huge insult to our health experts who are most qualified to administer and run the affairs of the DOH,” the group said in a statement issued by Robert Mendoza, AHW National President.

The group also cited Cascolan’s role in crafting the Oplan Double Barrel, the police’s bible in anti-drug operations under the Duterte administration.

“With the country’s deteriorating health situation wherein poverty-related, communicable and preventable diseases like tuberculosis, COVID-19 and cardiovascular problems remained top causes of mortality and morbidity, there is a need for a free, comprehensive health approach in combatting diseases than a militarist approach,” the group said.

Senators also expressed different views on Cascolan’s appointment.

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, also a former PNP chief, said a doctor is not needed to manage an organization like the DOH.

“His position requires good management skills. I don’t see any problem there,” Dela Rosa said.

Sen. Bong Go said Cascolan “brings with him the experience especially in instilling discipline and enforcing health and safety measures against COVID-19.”

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Cascolan’s mistah, said the appointment was “unexpected” but she hopes the DOH will be able to put to good use the skills of the former PNP chief.

“Aside from considering him a friend and my mistah, I respect Gen. Cascolan as an officer and a gentleman. His stint at the PNP speaks for itself. But the DOH should and must always be a public health-led agency, especially as we continue to deal with COVID-19 and other burdens of disease,” Hontiveros said.

“However, we also recognize that it is the President’s prerogative to appoint individuals to office. We hope that the DOH will find suitable roles for Usec. Cascolan to further add value in addressing threats to public health security and safety in our communities,” she added.

Cascolan served as PNP chief from September 2020 to November 2020.

After he retired from the police force, he was appointed by former President Rodrigo Duterte as an undersecretary at the Office of the President in February 2021.

Cascolan is part of the Philippine Military Academy Sinagtala class of 1986, along with other former PNP chiefs Dela Rosa and Oscar Albayalde.


Credit belongs to : www.manilastandard.net

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