Health chief welcomes probe of Islamic State link
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial welcomed a congressional investigation to explain allegations that she repeatedly met with a Kuwaiti linked to the Islamic State (IS).
“We welcome any investigation. It will clear our name. My conscience is clear. I have not done anything wrong,” Ubial said after congressmen questioned her relationship with Hussein Al-Dhufairi, an owner of visa processing firm Winston Q8 Certification Solutions International Inc.
Winston Q8 is the Taguig City-based subsidiary of Winston General Trading & Contracting Co. that issues health certificates to Kuwait-bound Filipino workers.
“Apparently, one of the owners of this company is involved with [IS],” House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez earlier said, referring to Al-Dhufairi.
Kuwaiti and United States authorities helped Philippine security forces identify and arrest Al-Dhufairi and his wife Rahaf Zina in Taguig City in March.
Middle Eastern news media reported that Al-Dhufairi was a brother of “one of the most dangerous” Daesh leaders, Abdul Mohsen Al-Dhufairi, alias Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti.
Abu Jandal, one of the highest-ranking IS leaders, was killed by US air strikes in Raqqa, Syria last December. His brother Hussein married his widow Rahaf Zina, the media said.
Prior to the arrest of the Al-Dhufairi couple in March, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said Ubial facilitated the operation of Winston Q8, which represented the Kuwaiti health ministry on medical certifications.
But Ubial said “anyone involved in the industry [is aware] that the DOH under my watch definitely shut down Winston Q8 and never at any time facilitated their continued operation.”
In a separate statement, the DOH said the accusation that Ubial has “ties” with the company was “not only false but highly malicious and libelous.”
Ubial said the DOH, through the Office of Health Regulations and Health Facilities, had already revoked the accreditation of medical clinics under Winston Q8.
The DOH, Ubial said, would cooperate with any investigation on allegations it allowed the continued operation of Winston Q8 as well as her relation with Al-Dhufairi.
“The DOH is willing to cooperate with any investigation by proper authorities to look into allegations it sanctioned the continuing operations of Winston Q8,” Ubial said.
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