PHILIPPINE President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. on Tuesday night said he would reorganize his Cabinet after the one-year ban on the appointment of losing politicians ended on May 9. 

“By the end of the first year, it will be clear in the sense that everyone’s on-the-job training is over,” he told a press briefing in Indonesia, based on a transcript sent by the presidential palace.

“We’ve seen who performs well and who is — will be — important to what we are doing. So, yes, there’s still going to be… I don’t know about a reshuffle, but reorganization in the Cabinet,” he added.

Mr. Marcos, 65, has yet to appoint permanent secretaries for the Health and Defense departments.

The Philippines is still reeling from the impact of a coronavirus pandemic that exhausted the country’s health system in the past years.

Daily COVID-19 infections in the Philippines more than doubled to 1,352 in the past week from a week earlier, weeks after the country detected its first case of the Omicron subvariant XBB.1. 16.

The Marcos government is showing little or no concern for public health, the Medical Action Group said in a statement, citing the president’s failure to name his Health secretary.

“What adds insult to injury is that his hands are seemingly full in appointing former police and military officials to key government posts including the DoH that undermines the importance of having expertise and experience in the field of public service, especially in public health,” it added. 

The group said appointment of people to key positions, especially in the Department of Health (DoH), should be based on their capability and commitment.

“They should be able to foster an environment of accountability, transparency and good governance in the health sector,” Medical Action said.

The group political favors send a negative signal to health professionals who have dedicated their careers to advancing public health. 

“It shows that their expertise and contributions are undervalued and that their voices have no place in the decision-making processes,” it said. “This highlights a more significant problem in the Philippines, where political appointments and connections often prevail over qualifications and merit, which is only further eroding public trust in the government.”

Mr. Marcos this month said he was considering giving Cabinet posts to people who lost in the 2022 elections.

The 1987 Constitution bars the appointment of losing politicians within a year after elections. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza