Ubial on CA rejection: That’s life | Inquirer News

Ubial on CA rejection: That’s life

Paulyn Ubial —LYN RILLON

“That’s life.”

This was the reaction of Secretary Paulyn Ubial following the decision of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) on Tuesday to reject her nomination as head of to the Department of Health (DOH).


In a text message to reporters, Ubial mentioned that she might return to the Doctors to the Barrios program.


“That was my first choice of work,” said Ubial, who has been a public health servant for nearly 30 years.

Ubial became the fifth Cabinet member of the 15-month-old Duterte administration to be booted out by the bicameral body.

Malacañang said it regretted the CA rejection of Ubial.

“We wish Secretary Ubial well in all her future endeavors,” said presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella.

Ubial’s son, Karl, posted his thoughts titled, “Today, a Part of Me Died,” on his Facebook account about the CA decision.

“A part of me died today knowing that the esteemed body has made it clear that working from the ground up won’t give you the sky,” he said.


“Did my mother’s reputation get tarnished? Not one bit. For there are no sane people who will think that false allegations make up for the 29 years of good government service and reputation that has made her viable for the position,” Karl said.

He said Ubial’s work in the government was the reason he was studying medicine.

Others rejected

Other Cabinet members whose appointments were rejected by the CA were Perfecto Yasay (foreign affairs), Regina Lopez (environment), Judy Taguiwalo (social welfare) and Rafael Mariano (agrarian reform).

Mr. Duterte’s picks for the foreign and environment portfolios, Alan Peter Cayetano and Roy Cimatu, respectively, have been confirmed.

Ubial was not present at the plenary where the rejection of her appointment was announced an hour after the CA committee on health chaired by Sen. Gregorio Honasan II terminated its confirmation hearing on the health secretary.

“After scrutinizing voluminous documents and hearing the testimonies of the appointee and the [opponents], the committee reached a difficult decision and recommendation with at least 13 votes to withhold its consent to the ad interim appointment of the appointee,” Honasan said.

Plenary approval

The plenary then approved the committee’s recommendation to disapprove Ubial’s appointment.

Honasan later told reporters that the committee stopped counting the votes when 13 members—which made up the majority on the panel—signified their opposition to Ubial’s confirmation.

The committee held three confirmation hearings that saw four lawmakers, including Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque, opposing Ubial’s confirmation for various reasons.


After the hearings were terminated and the committee went into executive session to decide on the fate of the health secretary, Ubial hugged and kissed her supporters and wiped away tears.

“I am very happy that there were members who supported me as well as there were [opponents], so this balanced out somehow,” she said.

One of the committee members, Manila Rep. Rosenda “Sandy” Ocampo, said during the hearing that she supported the confirmation of Ubial, as Ubial was a career official.

Ubial left the Senate premises shortly before the CA plenary started, apparently after being informed that her appointment had been rejected by the body.

During the confirmation hearing, a new opponent, Maria Fe Francisco, who said she represented employees of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), manifested the group’s opposition to Ubial heading the DOH allegedly for “grave abuse of power and usurpation of authority.” Ubial acted as chair of the PhilHealth board.

Dr. Hildegardes Dineros, a former PhilHealth president, came forward not to oppose Ubial’s confirmation but to call her a “liar” for saying he resigned from his post when he was ousted by the board through her.

Ubial insisted that Dineros had resigned. Two of nine board members issued a statement to deny Dineros’ contention that he was ousted from the government corporation.

On Dineros’ complaint, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III commented at one point during the hearing that Dineros was saying that Ubial had lied to the committee again.

Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato also tangled with Ubial over the action of the PhilHealth board to appoint the interim PhilHealth president and CEO.

Sato called the move an act of disrespect of the power of the President, who has the authority to appoint PhilHealth’s top official.

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Sotto asked the committee to vote on the fate of Ubial after he complained of an administration order involving midwives’ and nurses’ practices that already had a legal opinion but which she placed under review. —With a report from Philip C. Tubeza

TAGS: DoH, Paulyn Ubial

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