MANILA, Philippines ? (UPDATE) Malacanang on Sunday announced the appointment of Health Secretary Francisco Duque as chairperson of the Civil Service Commission.
Duque will be replaced as health secretary by Secretary Esperanza Cabral, a cardiologist, whose seat at the social welfare department will be taken over by her undersecretary, Celia Yangco, according to Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.
?(The President) has appointed Secretary Cabral as the new health secretary. Duque is moving to the CSC,? Ermita said.
The executive secretary added that Cabral would be replaced at the Department of Social Welfare and Development by Social Welfare Undersecretary Celia Yangco.
Agnes Devanadera is now permanent secretary of the Department of Justice, Ermita said.
Devanadera assumed the post in an acting capacity after then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez was named chief presidential legal counsel in June 2009. She is said to be gunning for a congressional seat in Quezon province.
The new appointments ended weeks of speculation that Duque would be transferred to the CSC following the final rejection of Saludo by the Commission on Appointments.
Saludo reportedly failed to meet the minimum requirements for the position, such as being a lawyer. But it later turned out that he had turned down requests of certain lawmakers to appoint their protégés.
Still, Saludo was given an ad interim appointment at the committee level only to be rejected at the commission?s plenary session.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo finally gave up on Saludo in October 2009, and ordered a search for a new CSC chair.
Duque and Cabral were earlier rumored to be considering slots in the administration?s senatorial slate. But they instead decided to stay in the Cabinet until Ms Arroyo finished her nine-year term on June 30.
Duque welcomed his new post as CSC chair. When reached for comment, Duque appeared to have expected Malacañang?s announcement.
He said he would assume his new office either on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Apparently having prepared himself for his new position, Duque said he had consulted with Saludo and former CSC Chair Corazon de Leon.
?It?s my first time (to be with the CSC). I haven?t even been to the office yet. I?m still trying to find out what programs to continue, what are the problems, the challenges. I?m in the process of learning,? Duque said.
He said he would see how the CSC could improve systems and services for civil servants and enhance professionalism, integrity, responsiveness, efficiency and courtesy among state workers.
Duque expressed hope that any challenges he would face with the CSC would be light when compared with those he faced when he was appointed in 2005 to lead the Department of Health.
Cabral said on Sunday she was informed by Ermita about her transfer to health department only last Friday.
?I am honored to serve the Filipino people in this capacity just as I was honored to serve them for four years as social welfare secretary,? she said when sought for reaction to her new assignment.
In her text message to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Cabral thanked Ms Arroyo for ?yet another opportunity to be of service to the country.?
?In the limited time that I [will] have (as health secretary), I will do my best to continue the good programs of Secretary Duque, particularly in reducing the inequities in health care,? Cabral said.
She also praised her colleagues at the Department of Social Welfare and Development, with whom she had worked not only in poverty alleviation programs but also in helping victims of calamities such as those caused by tropical storm ?Ondoy? and typhoon ?Pepeng,? and people displaced by the fighting in Mindanao.
?I am so proud of them and cherish the time I spent with them. At the same time, I look forward to working with another special group of public servants toward the improved health of all Filipinos,? Cabral said.