MANILA – The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Tuesday rejected the appointment of Paulyn Jean Ubial as Health secretary.
The 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 was the fifth Cabinet secretary appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to be rejected by the CA. The other four were Rafael Mariano of Agrarian Reform; Judy Taguiwalo, Social Welfare; Regina Paz Lopez, Environment; and Perfecto Yasay Jr., Foreign Affairs.
At the CA health committee 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 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.
In an interview, Ubial told reporters: “Talagang mababaw ang luha ko. Mahilig ako manood ng mga teledrama.”
Former Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) interim president and chief executive officer Hildegardes Dineros attended Tuesday’s hearing to manifest that Ubial “peddled” lies before the CA when she 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.
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 she arbitrarily 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 was done arbitrarily” and “resulted in extreme demoralization and has in turn affected corporate output,” Francisco said.
Ubial said that while it “pains” her to remove the compensation and allowances of PhilHealth employees, she had to “follow the law.”
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, meanwhile, asked Ubial over 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.
“Only God can judge Marcos,” Ubial’s son, Karl, posted. “Supports judgment through death penalty.”
Pacquiao said Ubial should tell his son to avoid making such comments.
“Siguro pagsabihan na lang natin si Karl na hindi mag-comment kasi pangit na you’re doing your job in the government, sa DOH, and then may mga comment na masama doon sa ibang lider ng bansa,” Pacquiao said.
Ubial said his son is willing to make a public apology over the matter. “I’m sure my son does not want to jeopardize my confirmation,” she said.
Rep. Josephine Sato (Occidental Mindoro), for her part, asked Ubial about the appointments of interim/OIC PCEOs.
“Why not pass a resolution recommending these people to the President to be appointed full-fledged president to the corporation?” Sato asked, to which Ubial said they had already recommended the appointment of de la Serna on June 9.
“You cannot abrogate it upon yourself to appoint successive OIC presidents,” Sato told Ubial. (GMA News)