Wednesday, November 5, 2014
PNoy Hints at Problem with Secretary of Health Ona
The return of Health Secretary Enrique Ona in the Cabinet now hangs in a balance.
President Aquino yesterday kept mum on whether he is satisfied with the performance of Ona, but revealed certain problems with the health chief who recently went on a month-long leave.
The President admitted that he allowed Ona to go on leave so he could prepare his answers to questions about the government’s immunization program.
“Whether or not I am satisfied will come after the results of these answers to the questions that were propounded to him,” Aquino said in a media interview after the inauguration of a softdrink plant expansion project in Laguna.
Aquino said he had some questions for Ona about the government’s immunization program, particularly on “the balance between preventive and curative aspects of public health.”
“So, hindi niya mahanda lahat itong mga sagot sa katanungang umiiral kung tinatrabaho pa rin niya ‘yung kanyang day-to-day functions as Secretary of Health. So humingi muna ng leave para maihanda iyong lahat ng mga sagot dito sa mga tanong na ito (He could not provide all the answers to my questions if he was serving his day-to-day functions as Secretary of Health. He asked to go on leave to prepare all the answers to these questions),” Aquino said.
Last week, Ona sought a month-long leave supposedly to attend to personal matters, including his health. Health Undersecretary Janette Garin has been assigned to temporarily lead the DOH.
The President’s spokesmen later clarified that Ona was not fired from the Cabinet but would return to his post after his leave of absence.
Rumors, however, circulated that Ona was forced to go on leave after earning the President’s ire for his proposed higher budget for certain hospitals.
The President, in the same media interview in Laguna, went to explain his dilemma with Ona.
Aquino said he told Ona about the government’s “mission” to prevent people from getting sick, so they won’t have to be confined in a hospital. Ona, on the other hand, cited the need to upgrade hospitals which have fallen behind, Aquino said.
“So, ano ba ang balanse dapat diyan (So what should the balance be)?,” Aquino asked. “Anyway, there are questions on the immunization program for the children and he asked for time to prepare his explanation on what the assumptions are, the target population, when vaccination programs are scheduled, what the results of the delivery are, etcetera,” he said in Filipino.
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