Pope’s visit stalls naming of new health secretary
MANILA, Philippines–The visit of Pope Francis comes first, before President Benigno Aquino III tackles some other sensitive issues, such as the replacement for resigned Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda on Wednesday said that he has yet to receive any advisory or information from the Office of the President on who would replace Ona.
“As you know, the Pope is coming. So we’re a bit focused on the security preparations and the preparations for the arrival of Pope Francis… There has been no announcement yet coming from the Palace on who will be the permanent Secretary of Health,” Lacierda said.
Lacierda said that the Department of Health (DOH) continues to run with acting Secretary Janette Garin “on top of the agency.”
“The services provided by the DOH are not held in a standstill by reason of the lack of a permanent secretary,” Lacierda added.
Ona resigned as Health Secretary on Dec. 19 after having gone on an extended leave, as advised by the President himself.
Aquino had wanted Ona to put together an explanation on various issues in the Health Department, including the allegedly questionable purchase of antipneumonia vaccines.
Pope Francis will be in the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19 for an apostolic and state visit.
The Pope is coming to the Philippines primarily to meet survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name Haiyan) in Tacloban, Leyte.
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