Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Tuesday lauded the appointment by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of Gilberto Teodoro Jr. as Defense secretary and Dr. Teodoro Herbosa as Health secretary.
“They are welcome additions to the President’s immediate official family. Their wealth of experience and knowledge in defense and health strengthen the Marcos Cabinet,” he said.
Their appointments also mean that the President “is bent on finding the best and the brightest to join him in serving our people,” he said.
The Speaker said Teodoro and Herbosa are both knowledgeable in their respective fields.
“I think that most importantly, they will bring a civilian perspective to the defense and health sectors,” he added.
Teodoro is a former defense secretary and Tarlac congressman. His father, Gilberto Teodoro Sr., was Social Security System administrator during the time of President Marcos’ father.
He finished law at UP and topped the 1989 bar examinations. He holds a master’s degree in law from Harvard University.
Herbosa once served as health undersecretary and was a Philippine General Hospital official for many years.
The President administered the oath of office to Teodoro and Herbosa on Tuesday.
“A caring health system and a strong capacity to defend our territory is our goal for the country.” Marcos said in a social media post.
“On the oath of Atty. Gilberto C. Teodoro Jr. as Secretary of the Department of National Defense and to Dr. Teodoro J. Herbosa as Department of Health Secretary today, we ensure that the welfare of every Filipino is in good hands,” he said.
The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) announced the appointments following separate meetings with Teodoro and former Defense officer-in-charge Carlito Galvez Jr, and Herbosa and Health officer-in-charge Ma. Rosario Vergeire on Monday afternoon.
Galvez released a statement thanking the President for trusting him to lead the Defense Department following the oath taking of his successor.
President Marcos earlier said a reorganization could happen in his Cabinet as the appointment ban on losing candidates who ran in last year’s elections ended on May 9, 2023.
The President said he was keen on appointing to certain positions some of those who are now no longer covered by the prohibition.
Meanwhile, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin administered the oath-of-office of Joshua Bingcang as the new acting president, chief executive officer, and member of the board of directors of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).
The Department of National Defense welcomed Teodoro’s appointment.
Galvez said Teodoro would have the full support of the department as he leads it a second time around.
“We have achieved great strides in our priority programs on internal security, territorial defense, disaster preparedness, and the continued development of the defense organization,” Galvez said.
“Rest assured that the DND has my unequivocal support as we all work together in the pursuit of our vision of a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Philippines,” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines backed the appointment of Teodoro as the new DND chief and praised Galvez for his work as the OIC of the defense department.
“We believe that his decisive leadership, professional competence, and wealth of experience, highlighted by his previous assignment as the defense chief from 2007 to 2009, will help build upon our gains in the defense and security of the country,” said AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar.
“The AFP also renders its snappiest salute to Senior Usec Carlito Galvez Jr., the outgoing DND Officer-in-Charge, for his inspiring and dedicated leadership in the Defense Department. Thank you for your service, Sir!” he added.
National Security Adviser Eduardo Año also hailed the designation of Teodoro as the head of defense.
“As a former holder of the defense portfolio, Secretary Teodoro already carries with him a wealth of experience that will greatly assist in our march towards total victory against communist terrorism as well as in protecting our maritime entitlements and defending our territorial integrity in the face tensions in the West Philippine Sea, Año said.
“We look forward to working closely with him in the face of ever changing threats to our national security, he said.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the appointments of Teodoro and Herbosa would boost the country’s bid to have a secure and stronger nation supported by a healthy population.
“With Secretary Teodoro in defense and Secretary Herbosa in health, the President has just addressed the two most pressing challenges of our time—territorial integrity and our full recovery from the pandemic.”
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III said both Herbosa and Teodoro have prior experience in their respective fields already and can hit the ground running.
Senator Grace Poe said they trust that their expertise and experience in their respective fields will help them carry on the gargantuan tasks that lie ahead.
The new secretaries, she said, are crucial in deciding and implementing strategies in addressing the various health issues the country is facing and upholding the nation’s territorial integrity against various threats.
Senator JV Ejercito, vice chair of the Senate health committee, said Herbosa should prioritize the full implementation of the Universal Health Care Law and boost the public health care system, which showed weakness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also said the health secretary should be ready to build a specialty hospital in every region.
But members of the leftist Makabayan bloc said they were wary of Teodoro’s return to his old post, which he held during the Arroyo administration.
The Makabayan bloc members also urged Teodoro to shun red-tagging, focus on the West Philippine Sea, and reinstate peace talks between the government and communist rebels.
The rights group Karapatan said cases of killings, disappearances, and community bombings happened when Teodoro led the DND from 2007 to 2009.
“His record as Defense secretary under President Arroyo was not good,” Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay said in Filipino.
The group challenged Teodoro to stop human rights abuses targeting civilians and activists.
Health experts meanwhile welcomed Herbosa’s appointment.
The president of the Philippine College of Physicians, Dr. Rontgene Solante said Herbosa’s experience in public health emergencies makes him the right choice for the position.
He urged the new secretary to lay down directions on how the country should approach COVID-19 now that the World Health Organization has lifted the public health emergency. In particular, he wanted to know the government’s plan for vaccination.
Dr. Jose de Grano of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc. (PHAPI) said he hopes Herbosa will be open to their concerns, like regulatory pain points and staffing problems.