FORMER Health secretary Francisco Duque III was recently assigned to head the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Gary Olivar said Monday that the CSC chairman post is a six-year term position as mandated by the Constitution.

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This gives Duque the power to remain in the government even beyond the term of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who formalized his appointment as new CSC chairman last Saturday.

“Clearly this allows him to make a longer contribution to public service that would go on even beyond the president’s term because it is a constitutionally protected six-year term,” Olivar said.

The appointment of Duque was made public last Sunday, same with the appointment of former Social Welfare secretary Esperanza Cabral as new health chief in replacement of Duque.

Social Welfare Undersecretary Celia Yangco has been promoted to replace Cabral.

Olivar said the former health secretary’s appointment was mutually decided upon by the President and Duque. “Well that would reflect I think a judgment by the President which obviously would conform as well as with Secretary Duque’s own personal inclinations that the balance of his term in public service on her watch would be better spent at the CSC.”

With Duque’s preference, the Palace spokesperson said President Arroyo did not have a hard time thinking of replacement as Secretary Cabral has no hesitation to accept the post.

“In making decision the President was also helped by the fact that she has an outstanding replacement immediately available in the person of Secretary Cabral who was in fact appointed to replace Secretary Duque to continue the leadership at DOH,” he said.

Olivar said the President believed that Cabral is someone whom she could put her trust on leading to the transfer of Duque.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, in a separate interview, said that Cabral is the most qualified person to head DOH since she has a background in medicine as cardiologist.

The CSC top post was previously headed by acting secretary Ricardo Saludo but his appointment was junked by the Court of Appeals.

Asked if this serves as reward for Duque, Olivar downplayed, saying, “it is a new appointment that allows him to extend his exemplary public service over a longer period of time.” (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)