Ona has packed belongings at DOH, ready to go, says source | Inquirer News

Ona has packed belongings at DOH, ready to go, says source

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 09:27 PM December 16, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – It looks like embattled Health Secretary Enrique Ona is slipping quietly away from his office.

Some employees of the Department of Health (DOH) and members of the media saw several boxes containing the health chief’s personal belongings being hauled into a van late afternoon on Monday.

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A source confirmed that Ona had asked the staff members of the health agency to pack up his things on Monday, the same day that he submitted his resignation letter to President Aquino, who, however, was not around at that time to face Ona.

Enrique Ona-1116

Health Secretary Enrique Ona. AFP FILE PHOTO

He left the letter with a staff member at the Office of the President instead, according to the source.

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Malacañang has yet to officially make a decision on the fate of Ona, who was asked to go on leave so he could put together an explanation for his decision to purchase P800 million worth of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine 10 (PCV 10) instead of the supposedly more cost-efficient PCV 13.

The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into the alleged irregularities in the procurement of the vaccines. The investigation supposedly stemmed from a complaint filed directly in the Office of the President by the National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management (NCPAM) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

But the WHO had denied filing any complaint regarding the controversial purchase of PCV 10, saying that it merely provided assessments based on the DOH’s request.

Late in November, at the end of his month-long leave, Ona had offered to resign but was told by Malacañang to stay put pending a review of his explanation on his choice of anti-pneumonia vaccine.

In his explanation to Mr. Aquino, Ona said he requested the WHO to evaluate the costs and results associated with the two vaccines amid a debate among DOH officials and medical experts on the choice of vaccine to purchase.

He also said that in the light of the medical debate on the choice between the two vaccines, he exercised the “best judgment” to issue a certificate of provisional exemption for PCV 10 to allow the government to purchase the less costly vaccine at $1 per dose “to optimize limited government resources.”

His decision to procure PCV 10 also allowed the government to save more than P231.7 million in public funds.

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The anti-pneumonia vaccination initially targeted 700,000 children under one year old belonging to the poorest households listed in the government’s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction.

The government ultimately decided that a nationwide vaccination program be rolled out for some one million year-old children belonging to the poorest households.

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TAGS: anti-pneumonia vaccines, complaint, Department of Health, Enrique Ona, Government Officials, Government Procurement, investigation, National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management, NCPAM, News, Office of the President, PCV 10, PCV 13, Philippine Government, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine 10, resignation, WHO, World Health Organization
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