Ubial rejection averted ‘major public health disaster’ – Roque

MANILA, Philippines – Kabayan Representative Harry Roque welcomed the Commission on Appointment’s (CA) rejection of Paulyn Ubial as Department of Health (DOH) secretary on Tuesday, October 10.

“We averted a major public health disaster with the non-confirmation of Ubial. The DOH deserves a decisive leader and I call on President [Rodrigo] Duterte to appoint an exceptional doctor with proven managerial skills to head the DOH,” said Roque, who was among the 4 oppositors to Ubial’s appointment.  

“The success of universal health care and all other health reforms of the administration lies in the hands of the next DOH secretary. Let us not blow the opportunity the second time around,” he added in a statement.

Roque slammed Ubial for her "flip-flopping" statements on the Zika virus and the delay in the procurement of the dengue vaccine in favor of the pneumonia vaccine. (READ: Ubial dares Roque to file cases against her)

The lawmaker also accused Ubial, as Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) chairperson, of controlling internal affairs for her own benefit.

On Tuesday, at least 13 members or a majority of the CA voted to reject Ubial, the 5th Cabinet appointee by Duterte who failed to get the nod of the powerful commission. 

The CA previously rejected the appointments of Gina Lopez for environment, Perfecto Yasay Jr for foreign affairs, Judy Taguiwalo for social welfare, and Rafael Mariano for agrarian reform. 

CA members grilled Ubial over her 15 foreign trips and the mismanagement of the PhilHealth while Ubial was the chairperson of the board, among other issues. 

Senator Gregorio Honasan II, CA health panel chairperson, said their decision to reject Ubial was “actually a collegial and individual judgement call.”

“We cannot afford to have the commission suffer from information overload, but the process does not stop there. There are still oversight measures. Whoever was appointed, whether rejected or confirmed, issues can be raised,” said Honasan in an interview with reporters.

Ubial was emotional after the CA committee on health terminated her confirmation hearing. She was comforted by her supporters, who then accompanied her out of the Senate. Ubial no longer attended the CA’s plenary session, where her rejection was announced.


“I know that there are a lot of opposition and manifestations that are before you about my not being capable and able to be secretary of health. But, your honor, I stand by my commitment to the President,” said Ubial as she made her last plea before the CA.  

“Whatever happens today, I will serve at the pleasure of the President,” she added. 

Ubial added she would also respect whatever the CA decides because “it’s a constitutional process.” – Rappler.com 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.