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CA defers anew Ubial’s confirmation

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By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The Commission on Appointments (CA) deferred anew its decision on whether or not to confirm the ad interim appointment of Dr. Paulyn Jean Ubial as secretary of the Department of Health (DOH).

Senator Gregorio Honasan, chair of the CA committee on health said they decided to defer deliberation on Ubial’s appointment as the members have yet to ask several more questions regarding issues on her leadership.

Honasan, however, said they target to decide on her confirmation next week before Congress takes a session break starting October 14.

About five months since the first hearing last May, Ubial on Tuesday faced members of the powerful appointments body to defend her appointment in the DOH from her three oppositors – Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque, doctor Potenciano Malvar, and lawyer Restituto Mendoza.

ACTS OFW Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III and Surigao del Norte Robert “Ace” Barbers earlier filed their respective oppositions, but withdrew them last September 25, according to the CA.

In the second hearing, Roque reiterated that Ubial should not be confirmed, accusing the appointed Health Secretary of corruption and incompetence. He repeated Ubial’s alleged purchase of overpriced pneumonia vaccines using the funds originally allocated for dengue vaccines. He also pointed out her supposed wrong assessment of the Zika virus in 2016.

Mendoza, meanwhile, opposed Ubial’s alleged plan to dismiss about 7,000 nurses in Eastern Visayas and make them contractual employees.

Malvar, for his part, accused Ubial of allowing the construction of “unauthorized” hospitals.

Ubial, in response, denied the claims of her oppositors. She, instead, challenged them to “produce evidence” and file cases against her before the Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Senator Vicente Sotto III, a staunch protestor of the Reproductive Health program, also grilled her on the DOH’s move to distribute condoms in schools. Ubial, in response, said the DOH stalled its plan and assured it will no longer push through with the distribution.

Ubial was also questioned by Sotto on reports that she included in her trips abroad a considerable contingent including her relatives. Ubial denied this and said the trips were official and shouldered by the Office of the President. She admitted bringing along her son, Carl, in some of her trips last year, but said that she “paid for everything.”

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