Bongbong Marcos vows to fix COVID-19 'shortcomings' of Duterte admin

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 30) — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. promised to be more transparent and perform better at handling the COVID-19 pandemic than the Duterte administration.

"There were shortcomings in the COVID response," the new chief executive said in his inaugural speech on Thursday.

"We will fix them," he said. "Out in the open, no more secrets in public health."

Marcos, however, has yet to name a new health secretary. The Department of Health on Thursday said it is still awaiting instructions on who would be the department's officer-in-charge.

Drawing from his own struggles when he contracted the infection in the early days of the pandemic, he said the country will not be caught unprepared and underequipped to fight the next pandemic under his supervision.

President Rodrigo Duterte's successor also lamented the exodus of nurses that are leaving private and public hospitals understaffed.

Marcos said solutions and changes will be seen immdiately with Susan Ople at the helm of the Department of Migrant Workers.

"Our nurses are the best in the world," he declared. "They acquitted themselves with the highest distinction abroad, having suffered even the highest casualties. With the same exemplary dedication at home, they just got by. They are out there because we cannot pay them for the same risk and workload that we have back here."

"There will be changes starting tomorrow," Marcos vowed.

The Duterte administration has been criticized for slow response, most especially in the early weeks of the global health crisis.

The former president's appointees, such as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, were also embroiled in the controversial multi-billion peso medical supply contracts awarded by the government to Pharmally.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said it is necessary for Marcos to appoint his health secretary in the soonest possible time since transition in the department is crucial.

The incoming health chief should choose his team whom he can trust and has the same vision as him or the president, he added.

Solante added that it is also important for the incoming DOH secretary to implement the COVID-19 vaccination with conviction and encourage people to work with him to boost immunization rate amid threats of more infectious variants.

“With the complacency that infections are not severe and only mild, people are not getting their vaccines," he said. "But that's not the end. We will really suffer increase in the number of cases..."

Aside from vaccination, Solante said other areas the new administration should focus on include improving health infrastructure and surveillance, particularly genomic surveillance.