OCTA fellow Fr. Nicanor Austriaco Jr. was recently offered the secretary position in the Department of Health by President Rodrigo Duterte. However, the health expert declined.
At a meeting with Cabinet officials, Duterte told Austriaco: “We would be happy – I would be happy – to appoint you as the Secretary of Health, if that is okay with you.”
The invitation came after the President revealed incumbent health secretary Francisco Duque III had expressed “a desire really to rest” following repeated calls for his resignation and backlash over the alleged misuse of Covid19 funds.
Duterte added that he had only been forcing Duque to remain in his post but believed that the secretary would give way to Austriaco. The scientist priest replied, however, that Duque was doing a good job.
Austriaco, apart from being an OCTA fellow and Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases expert, is a visiting professor at the University of Sto. Tomas as well as a fellow of the school’s Center for Theology, Religious Studies and Ethics.
He is also a molecular biologist educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a biology and theology professor at Providence College in Rhode Island.
His scientific endeavors include heading Austriaco Lab in the college, which is dedicated to developing a Covid19 vaccine.
Austriaco is also part of the Department of Science and Technology’s Balik Scientist program, which encourages Filipino scientists abroad to return to the country and share their knowledge.