Those spearheading fight vs COVID-19 need not be doctors, says Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — Those spearheading the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic need not be doctors, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday as he defended his preference for appointing former military officers.
“You’re asking me: ‘Why are you so attached to those who were in the military? They know nothing.’ This is a mechanical act. It is not a study of medicine. This like a transaction in business,” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino, in his pre-recorded televised briefing.
He said that was why he called on Carlito Galvez Jr., a retired Army general who was chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to head the government response to the pandemic.
“You need not be a doctor here because you are transacting a business. It is not really a matter of medical science you are talking of,” he said.
Galvez, the president’s peace process adviser, is the country’s vaccine manager and the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF).
Since the pandemic began, Duterte has been criticized for letting former military officers instead of health experts lead the response to the pandemic.
Apart from Galvez, other former military officers in the government’s COVID-19 response are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is as NTF chairperson, and Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, a retired police general who leads the government’s contact tracing efforts.
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