Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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FIRING LINE: Insulting appointments

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Okada Manila
Hotel Okura Manila
The Manor at Camp John Hay
Novotel Manila
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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Can we really fault President BBM for appointing a retired police general in Camilo Cascolan as undersecretary of the Department of Health when not a whimper was heard the time former president Noynoy Aquino named lawyer Alexander Padilla to the same post in the DOH?

I think we could, especially since the “insult” referred to here by the Alliance of Health Workers is not related to one’s professional background but the contradiction this former Philippine National Police chief represented.

To run the affairs of the DOH, one must bear the core value of “upholding the quality of life, respect for human dignity, and protect the health and safety of the health workers,” according to the AHW. Cascolan, being one of the brains and chief implementers of the Duterte administration’s “war on drugs,” makes him a big contradiction in that DOH post.

It’s almost as ridiculous as the funny meme of DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire being appointed as the new PNP chief.

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What’s the point in putting the best medical minds in the country at the helm of the DOH when the President would fail to listen to them anyway?

Amid health officials’ consistent data-driven and science-based recommendations in fighting the COVID-19 threat, Marcos Junior would rather prioritize easing rules on wearing face masks.

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In fairness to him, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director-General Gerald Bantag was only preventively suspended, which means he was not being penalized for any violation.

His being out of the picture was supposed to be for the interim as investigators get to the bottom of orders to eliminate radio commentator Percy Lapid since those orders came from within the walls of the New Bilibid Prison, and he happens to be a “person of interest” in the case.

But with the appointment of Gregorio Catapang Jr. – the military chief of former president Noynoy Aquino – as the new BuCor chief, then Bantag was actually sacked, not suspended. Ouch! That’s another appointment shrouded by insult.

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Many times over, this corner had called out the PNP for coming up short in cracking the separate cases of 34 “sabungeros” who went missing and have since never been found. Not even a congressional probe led cops to a breakthrough.

Recently, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) identified 11 police officers from the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) as suspects in the disappearance of at least three civilians in Cavite, pulling off CCTV footage of the vehicles they used and the actual abductions.

No wonder police investigations were getting nowhere.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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