Palace: Ona not axed, will return to work
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday, October 30, dispelled speculations that Health Secretary Enrique Ona has been axed.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda made the statement at a news briefing, when reporters asked about Ona following reports that he has gone on leave for "medical reasons."
“Secretary Ike Ona went on leave for health and personal reasons….Some are asking if he has resigned; he has not. He is only on leave,” said Lacierda.
When asked to give a categorical statement that Ona has not been sacked, the Palace official said, “He was not axed.”
Lacierda said that Ona will “be back,” and that Health Undersecretary Janet Garin has been designated as Department of Health officer-in-charge for the meantime.
A DOH source had told Rappler that the health chief will go on leave for a month.
Responding to questions, Lacierda said that Ona’s absence would not hinder preparations for possible Ebola cases in the country.
“It (DOH) will not be crippled or hampered by the absence of the head of agency. The work on Ebola is a multi-agency task, inter-agency task….So insofar as the Department of Health is concerned, there are personnel who are handling that issue on the Ebola,” he said.
He said that the DOH has put in place preparations and protocols in relation to the dread virus “even as Secretary Ike Ona takes a leave of absence.”
“We’ve increased the universal health coverage. We have increased PhilHealth. We have increased a number of vaccinations. So all these were done under the leadership of Secretary Ike Ona…The bottom line is: Is the President satisfied with the performance of each Cabinet member? There has been no reason for us to say otherwise,” Lacierda said. – Rappler.com