HOUSE Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin on Tuesday said that Department of Health (DoH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire’s role as officer-in-charge (OIC) doesn’t have a negative impact on the agency’s ability to respond to current or developing health concerns.
“Being an OIC in terms of pandemic response…will not in any way affect the delivery of health services,” Garin told House reporters during the Ugnayan sa Batasan Majority News Forum.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. earlier named Vergeire as DOH-OIC in the absence of a secretary.
As OIC of the health department, Vergeire has had to face the persisting coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic as well as other threat like that of monkeypox.
Asked during the forum if she thought the absence of DoH secretary has prevented the agency from properly responding to these public health emergencies, Garin, a former DoH chief herself, answered in the negative.
“Well, basically as a former secretary of health, I don’t think there’s really a huge impact kasi yung powers ng officer-in-charge, is the same powers as the acting [secretary], except on appointive powers,” Garin said.
“And based on my understanding, ‘yung Opisina ng Presidente eh binigyan naman ng leeway ‘yung DoH officials to recommend additional powers as they deem necessary to be able to be effective in healthcare response,” added the lady lawmaker.
“Be that as it may, kung pinag-uusapan natin ang pandemya the less movements inside, the better,” Garin said, referring to the DoH itself.
“I think what is urgently needed now dahil nga meron ngang mga nag-retire, mayroon mga bagong direktor na kailangan is for all the appointments to come out para ‘yung mga unfilled positions ay ma-fill upan na,” Garin further said.