Duterte defends military men in war vs. COVID-19: You need not be a doctor here

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 25) — President Rodrigo Duterte again defended his reliance on former military officials in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This is a mechanical act. It is not a study of medicine. Parang transaction sa negosyo (It's just like a business transaction)," Duterte said in a late night address on Wednesday.

"You need not be a doctor here, because you are transacting a business. It is not really a matter of medical science that you are talking of," he added.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana currently heads the National Task Forces against COVID-19, while former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff and now Interior Secretary Eduardo Año is the vice chairman.

Carlito Galvez, Jr., also a former AFP chief, is the country's Vaccine czar and chief implementer of the government's national response against COVID-19.

Duterte also appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee the COVID-19 response in Cebu City last year.

Malacañang has said the country needs "men and women trained in the art of warfare," since "we are in a state of war against an unseen enemy."

Duterte has always preferred appointing former military officials to various Cabinet posts. Other Cabinet officials who have military backgrounds include Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gringo Honasan, Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, and Bureau of Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero.

The Philippines has so far recorded 684,311 COVID-19 cases. The country received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines last February.