MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Paulyn Ubial has faced anew several individuals who oppose her appointment as the Chief of the Health Department in Tuesday’s confirmation hearing of the Commission on Appointments (CA).
First to question the Health Secretary was Kabayan Partylist Representative Harry Roque who accused her of corruption and incompetence.
According to Roque, Ubial has no strong stance in terms of the implementation of the anti-dengue vaccine.
Roque also criticized what he described as Ubial’s wrong notion about the Zika virus. This particular issue was clarified by Ubial during the hearing.
This particular issue was clarified by Ubial during the hearing.
“The bottom line of the Zika virus is that there was no outbreak; we were able to contain it,” Sec. Ubial said.
Secretary Ubial challenged Roque to file a complaint against her before the Office of the Ombudsman or the Office of the President if he has strong evidence against her.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III questioned Ubial about the government’s program to distribute condoms to high school students.
Sotto said the budget for the said program for this year is P159-million.
But Ubial noted the DOH spent P10-million only of the said amount, and that they no longer have plans to continue the controversial program.
“If you’re referring to condom distribution in schools, we will not implement it,” said Ubial.
Sotto also scrutinized what he describes as the luxurious travels of Ubial to other countries. The Health Secretary traveled abroad six times in just two and half months.
Ubial reasoned that several of her trips abroad were ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
She noted that only half of the amount she spent for her travels came from government coffers while the other half were funded by international agencies.
However, the senator expressed concern that the non-government organizations funding her trips are doing so with vested interests.
He also emphasized that Ubial should show documents proving that her travels abroad were official trips.
“Like what I said they might have vested interests and hidden advocacies,” Sen. Sotto said.
The Secretary admitted she brought with her in trips her 22-year-old son as a consultant of DOH, but noted that she paid for his expenses.
“He signed the contract, P1-consultant. He is without pay,” Ubial said.
The CA will resume the hearing on Ubial’s appointment next week.
Senator Sotto said that if the CA fails to decide on the appointment of Ubial before the Congress takes a session break, it might be the third time her appointment would be by-passed. He said the CA might then decide on her appointment upon the resumption of their session in November. – Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue