Will Ona be sacked? Let’s wait for his explanation, says Palace
MANILA, Philippines – Will alleged anomalies in the purchase of anti-pneumonia vaccines be the downfall of Health Secretary Enrique Ona? Malacañang on Tuesday said it will all depend on the secretary’s response.
“It would depend on his answers to the questions propounded by the President,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said during a Palace briefing.
Valte pointed out that Ona had asked for a month to address the issue.
“Let’s allow him a fair shake at that,” she said.
On Monday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima revealed that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was probing the alleged irregularities in the acquisition of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) 10 in 2012, contrary to the recommendation of the National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management to purchase PCV 13, which covers more diseases. In addition to Ona, Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag was also tagged in the anomaly.
Quizzed why Ona was asked to go on a leave, unlike other officials accused of wrongdoing, Valte said it was the secretary who decided on it.
“In my understanding it was Secretary Ona who asked for time. Given there are other tasks, he wanted to be able…to devote time to be able to answer the questions,” she said.
She was unsure if Tayag had also filed for a leave of absence.
Asked if the NBI investigation meant Aquino doubted Ona, unlike other officials who were also linked to anomalies, Valte said it was not the first time the President called for an investigation.
She said that Ona is also being presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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