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CA rejects Ubial as Health secretary

By: Hannah Torregoza

Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial failed to convince the Commission on Appointments (CA) as the powerful body yesterday voted to reject her ad interim appointment to the Department of Health (DoH).

Following a three-hour hearing and an executive session, Senator Gregorio Honasan, chair of the CA committee on health, said at least 13 members voted not to confirm Ubial’s appointment as DOH secretary. He said it was a “difficult decision” to “withhold its consent to the ad interim appointment” of Ubial.

Ubial was not present during the CA plenary session and reportedly left the Senate premises. But Ubial, in an interview before the announcement, said she would accept the CA decision.

Before being appointed by President Duterte last year, Ubial had served more than 20 years in the DoH. She rose from a rank of a medical specialist in 1991, to being an assistant secretary of the DoH in 2008 until July, 2016.

Honasan, however, said her achievements were “apparently” outweighed by the issues raised by her four oppositors.

At the three CA deliberations last May 17, October 3, and on Wednesday, Ubial was grilled over her supposed involvement in corruption and other irregularities not only in the DoH but also in the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) where she, as DoH secretary, sat as chairman of the board of directors.

Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque, Dr. Potenciano Malvar and lawyer Restituto Mendoza, in previous hearings accused Ubial of corruption and incompetence.

Filing a separate opposition Tuesday was Fe Francisco, a PhilHealth employee, who, during the latest hearing claimed she represents the 150 employees of the PhilHealth to express their “strong opposition” against Ubial’s confirmation.