Statement of Albay Rep Joey S. Salceda on the appointments of DND Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa

On Secretary Gilbert Teodoro:

I would like to congratulate my former colleague in the House and in the Cabinet, Secretary Gibo Teodoro for his appointment to one of the most critical posts in the Marcos cabinet, the Department of National Defense. Gibo and I were elected to the House the same year, and everyone always regarded him to be formidable. We were a group of 30-something members during a period of generational change in Congress. He would go on to serve the Arroyo cabinet just months after I left to run for Albay governor.

Gibo carries with him a resolutely civilian – and therefore broader – perspective on the country’s defense situation. As a middle-power in global affairs, our national defense is necessarily more complex than simply military firepower. Gibo is a topnotch lawyer and believes above all in the law.

Gibo is also a deep thinker in matters of national security. I urge you to read his July 2016 op-ed in The Diplomat for a sense of what his priorities will be as DND Secretary.

His emphasis on the need for multilateralism and international rule of law, as well as his caution about bilateral talks with China without sufficient leverage on our part, tells us what he will do. He will try to strengthen our hand should we decide to take a bilateral path, while strengthening our place in multilateral arrangements.

I agree with this broadly. Earlier this year, I called for higher-order defense capabilities, including the most advanced rocket systems, to be used in the joint exercises between the Philippines and the US. We also worked with the Executive Branch to adjust our rules on official development assistance to ensure we can accommodate advanced military aid. Might should not make right, but a strong defense coupled with the moral upper hand in international affairs are formidable guarantees of peace and territorial integrity.

He will also preside over institutional changes in how we respond to disasters. President Marcos has already issued an Executive Order reorganizing the country’s pre-disaster and disaster response efforts. Gibo will be at the forefront of making sure that vision works. He has the experience necessary, from Ondoy. He knows what he needs to do.

Interestingly, Gibo is a trained pilot and he knows that our defense requirements are evolving from mainly insurgency-based to more territorial protection – and that requires air superiority in our own airspace.

His thoughts about national security align most with President Marcos’s general inclination towards our traditional alliances, so he will fit very well in the President’s official family. I congratulate him and offer him all the support he will need.

On Secretary Ted Herbosa:

I congratulate Secretary Ted Herbosa on his appointment to the Health Department, which will benefit from his experience in the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Ted and I shared a common field of work – in disaster response and management – when he was Disaster and Rehabilitation Management Task Force head of the DOH, while I was Governor of Albay. Later on, of course, we both shared our thoughts with the IATF during COVID-19 onslaught. So, he brings to the DOH the perspective of a crisis manager.

Sec. Ted will also likely be the Secretary who will finally get the Center for Disease Control established. His work with the IATF will emphasize the need for a full-time disease prevention agency that has the operational flexibility necessary for quick and effective action.

His crisis work will help him address the DOH’s perennial procurement, logistics, and distribution issues. His work on infectious diseases should also help him address abysmal vaccination rates in certain long-standing infectious diseases such as diphtheria, measles, MMR, and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

I offer Sec. Ted all the support I can give him in what will become a challenging term as Secretary. His work will, above all, require stronger institution-building in the DOH. A doctor-manager like him is an excellent fit for the needs of the job.