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CA rejects Ubial’s appointment as DOH secretary

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(Photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)


MANILA — The Commission on Appointments (CA) has rejected the appointment of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.


The CA’s decision was reached through secret voting in an executive session. The CA committee on health conducted three hearings on Ubial’s nomination, which was met with several filed oppositions.


Ubial is the fifth Cabinet official appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to be rejected by the CA. The other four are Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr.


During the CA committee on health hearing, Ubial was emotional as she was asked whether she still wanted the job despite the oppositions filed against her.


“I know there are a lot of opposition and manifestation that are before you about my not being capable and to be the secretary of Health, but your honor, I stand by my commitment to the President,” Ubial said.


“He appointed me as Health Secretary and whatever happens today, I will serve at the pleasure of the President,” she added.


Former Philippine Health Insurance Corp.(PhilHealth) interim president and chief executive officer (CEO) Hildegardes Dineros attended the hearing to manifest that Ubial “peddled” lies before the CA when the Health Secretary claimed that he resigned from his post.


“She lied. I did not resign but ousted upon the instigation of Sec. Ubial… I was forcibly ousted,” Dineros said.


Dineros claimed Ubial called for a board meeting, a day before he was ousted from his post.


Ubial, Dineros said, has poor management skills, has a habit of lying, and lacks direction in the health sector.


Ubial denied Dineros’ claims, as she read minutes of the said board meeting. Ubial said Dineros voluntarily resigned as he felt that his colleagues no longer had confidence in him.


“Dineros said he is resigning as PCEO (PhilHealth CEO) just to give the Board all the allowance to choose,” Ubial said.


“I asked him ‘are you sure you want to resign?’… Upon a motion duly seconded, the board accepted the resignation of Dineros,” she said.


Dr. Celestina Ma Jude de la Serna has since been elected as interim/officer-in-charge PCEO.


Maria Fe Francisco, one of the 150 employees who signed a manifesto against Ubial, also attended the CA committee hearing to oppose the Health Secretary’s confirmation.


Francisco said Ubial committed “grave abuse of power and usurpation of authority” and violated the rights of PhilHealth employees to due process when the Secretary abritrarly suspended allowances and salary adjustments due to a notice of disallowance issued by the Commission on Audit (COA).


“The decision of the PhilHealth Board on the suspension of salaries were all done arbitrarily,” Francisco said. “The decision of the PhilHealth Board resulted in extreme demoralization and has in turn, affected corporate output.”


Ubial said that while it “pains” her to remove the compensation and allowances of PhilHealth employees, she had to “follow the law.”

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