On the appointment of ex-PNP chief as DOH undersecretary

The appointment of former chief of the Philippine National Police Camilo Cascolan as Department of Health (DoH) undersecretary is both a grave insult to the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings in the Duterte administration’s sham drug war and a rip-off from the playbook of his father and Rodrigo Duterte, when they militarized civilian bureaucracy during their terms.

The country has too many civilian health experts and professionals, as well as career officials who can offer more substantive and qualified public service through the DoH, but the president chose to appoint a police general, one of the brains and implementers of the murderous Oplan Tokhang (Oplan Double Barrel) campaign, in the agency.

Aside from his role in the drug war, Cascolan was at the helm of the PNP at the height of numerous violations on people’s rights during the pandemic lockdowns. Among these violations are the strict and unreasonable lockdowns and mass arrests of people in desperate need of food and aid, and the crackdown on people’s efforts to extend help to those in need.

We strongly believe that Cascolan’s appointment in the DOH is not bereft of motives to police the agency that is facing protests and issues due to the non-payment of benefits to health workers, inefficient and ineffective delivery of services and guidance to the people amidst the pandemic, whitewash of corruption issues within the agency, among others.

The people do not need another militarist official at the DoH and in the government. We support the call of health workers to recall the appointment of Cascolan.