THE Commission on Appointments (CA) yesterday rejected the appointment of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.
Ubial is the fifth Cabinet official appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to be rejected by the CA.
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.
“When we reach 13 votes, we stop the counting. All the information, the oppositors, all the documents even the timeline, it is actually a collegial and individual judgment call. We can’t afford to have the commission suffer from information overload,” said Sen. Gringo Honasan.
Sen. Vicente Sotto III said, “Smoking is dangerous to your health, like lying is dangerous to your confirmation.”
The other four secretaries rejected were Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, and Foreign 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.
Former Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) interim president and chief executive officer (CEO) Hildegardes Dineros manifested 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 was ousted upon the instigation of Secretary Ubial… I was forcibly ousted,” Dineros said.
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 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.
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 abritrarily 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.”
Senator Manny Pacquiao, meanwhile, asked Ubial about a social media post of the Cabinet secretary’s son.
In his Facebook post, Ubial’s son shared a GMA News article about Pacquiao’s comment on the hero’s burial for the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
Pacquiao said Ubial should tell his son to avoid making such comments.
Palace thanks Ubial
Malacanang yesterday thanked Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial for serving the Duterte administration for over a year.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a statement, also expressed Malacañang’s regret over the Commission on Appointment’s rejection of Ubial’s appointment to the Department of Health.
“We regret the Commission on Appointments’ non-confirmation of Department of Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial,” he said.
“We are deeply grateful for Sec. Ubial’s service to the Health Department and for epitomizing the President’s malasakit through her ‘All for Health, towards Health for All’ Philippine Health Agenda,” he added.
“We wish Secretary Ubial well in all her future endeavors,” Abella continued.