Ubial on CA rejection: ‘We win some, we lose some’

Mara Cepeda

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Ubial on CA rejection: ‘We win some, we lose some’
Outgoing Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial says she is waiting for Malacañang's orders as to her next steps, but eyes becoming a rural doctor once again

MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Paulyn Ubial thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for giving her the opportunity to helm the department she has been serving for 29 years.

“That’s life. We win some, we lose some. But I was prepared since day one. I know SOH (secretary of health) is a day job. Any day you can be replaced,” Ubial told reporters on Tuesday, October 10.

“I’m just grateful to PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) for this opportunity he gave me. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect to be SOH,” she added.

The Commission on Appointments (CA) had rejected Ubial’s ad interim appointment to the DOH on Tuesday. A total of 4 oppositions were filed against her by Kabayan Representative Harry Roque, lawyer Restituto Mendoza, General Miguel M. Malvar Medical Foundation medical director Potenciano Malvar, and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) employee Marie Fe Francisco.

Ubial’s oppositors had accused her of “flip-flopping” on her statements and of controlling PhilHealth’s internal affairs for her own benefit. (READ: Ubial rejection averted ‘major public health disaster’ – Roque)

Former PhilHealth president and chief executive officer Hildegardes Dineros also told the CA that Ubial was allegedly “peddling lies” when she claimed he voluntarily resigned from his post.

Aside from the supposed mismanagement of PhilHealth, the outgoing DOH secretary was also grilled by CA members over her 15 foreign trips, and her son Karl’s online posts against senators Vicente Sotto III and Manny Pacquiao, both members of the commission.

Ubial rose through the ranks at the DOH, starting out as a rural health worker in Kidapawan, North Cotabato in 1990 and eventually becoming assistant secretary from the Arroyo to Aquino administrations. Ubial was a career official when Duterte appointed her as DOH secretary, a non-career position.

Her rejection by the CA means Ubial already lost her stint in government service, said Civil Service Commission Assistant Commissioner Ariel Ronquillo. He said Ubial will need to be reappointed to a new position for her to return to government service. 

For now, Ubial said she is “waiting for Malacañang instructions,” though she is considering becoming a rural doctor.

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

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.