By Lance Arevada

PHOTO: The Manila Times/Department of Health/Philippine Government Forms

Amid the continuing increase of both COVID-19 cases and gas prices, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has yet to appoint his health and energy secretaries that are expected to take the lead in addressing these issues.

The absence of the heads of these key positions in the Marcos administration comes as it conducts its first Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, while it enters its first full week.

In a press briefing on Monday, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said that the appointment of the remaining key posts is in the "final evaluation stage," saying that it wouldn't be long for Marcos to announce his new secretaries.

Aside from the health and energy secretaries, the heads of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) continue to remain vacant for now.

Asked in the absence of a health secretary, Angeles assured that the president recognizes its crucial role in his government's pandemic response, thus needing it to pass through the needle's eyes before making a final decision.

“So you must also understand that this is so important, they must look very closely and carefully at the candidates,” the secretary added.

The Department of Health (DOH) reported that the country saw a 60% increase in COVID-19 cases from June 27 to July 3, with a daily average of 1,057 cases.

Still, the department assured that "everything is in status quo" as they wait for the appointment of the new DOH chief.

Edited by Kyla Balatbat