By Wilnard Bacelonia

CONFIRMED. Department of Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa (left) and Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. (right) earn on Tuesday (Dec. 5, 2023) the approval of the Commission on Appointments (CA). Laurel assured the senators to tap national and even international enforcers in stopping food hoarders, price manipulators, and smugglers. (Screenshot from CA Youtube channel) 

MANILA – The Commission on Appointments (CA) unanimously approved on Tuesday the interim appointments of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Teodoro Herbosa and Department of Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr.

Herbosa, in the continuation of his deliberation, answered various concerns from CA members including how to overcome the backlog in health emergency allowance (HEA) for public and private healthcare workers.

Sa 2024, naglagay din tayo dyan ng PHP22 billion, I think. So, unti-unting nababawasan (In 2024, we allotted PHP22 billion, I think, So, it becomes smaller) every year,” Herbosa said, assuring that within three years, the government will be able to pay all HEAs.

The DOH chief also assured that the country is still safe from the rising number of respiratory illnesses abroad.

Herbosa said the country is just experiencing the “season of respiratory illnesses.”

He recommended the public to continue wearing masks, keep social distance and to keep infected children at home to avoid spreading the virus to others.

The CA Committee on Health, chaired by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, first started the deliberation of Herbosa’s appointment last September.

Go assured that no one opposed Herbosa’s nomination but the urgent questions for Herbosa that needed more time prevented the committee from approving his appointment.

Herbosa served as special adviser of the National Task Force Against Covid-19 in the previous administration.

Meanwhile, Laurel told CA that like President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and other members of the Cabinet, he also abides by the whole-of-society and whole-of-country approach.

“Awareness of what’s going on around us allows us to make quick and sound decisions. For what is happening on the ground, kailangan ng constant communication sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda (We need constant communication with our farmers and fisherfolk),” Laurel said.

“We will tap national and even international enforcers in stopping food hoarders, price manipulators, and smugglers. Yan po ang mahigpit na bilin ng Pangulo. Linisin ang (That’s the marching orders of the President. Clean) DA, go after the smugglers, and increase food production,” he said.

Laurel is the president of Frabelle Fishing Corp., a company that went from a small Philippines-based trawl fishing company established in 1966 by his parents Francis and Bella Tiu-Laurel, to becoming one of the top deep-sea fishing companies in the Asia-Pacific region.

The corporation started with two fishing vessels around the Cuyo Island group and Northern Palawan and has since grown this number to about 150.

Laurel’s company was recognized as a top supplier for local canned tuna makers in 1972. (PNA)