Palace: Herbosa still health undersecretary
MANILA, Philippines – In the wake of recent personnel changes in the Department of Health (DOH), Malacañang on Friday, November 21 said only President Benigno Aquino III can relieve presidential appointees like Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa.
"As far as Usec Herbosa is concerned, unless the President relieves him of his duties, he remains an undersecretary and that also applies to all of us presidential appointees. We serve at the pleasure of the President,” Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
The statement comes after Herbosa revealed in an interview with Rappler that Acting Secretary Janette Garin had “tried to fire” him by withdrawing an earlier request made by Health Secretary Enrique Ona to renew Herbosa’s secondment contract with the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila.
Herbosa said Garin did not know the contract was already renewed prior to Ona’s month-long leave. Herbosa was an associate professor in UP before his appointment as undersecretary in 2010.
He also clarified the secondment contract is only about the "transfer" of his salary and benefits from UP to DOH and has nothing to do with his position as department undersecretary.
"Obviously she's firing me – that's very clear. She has no power to fire me because she didn't hire me. The one with the power to fire is the one who hired me – the President,” Herbosa told Rappler.
He earlier said he is considering filing cases against Garin for breach of contract and abuse of authority, but Valte said on Friday "he is no longer bent on filing charges."
"I understand that Usec Herbosa has returned to DOH and is awaiting further instructions from Usec Garin on other tasks that may be given to him," Valte added.
Aside from Herbosa, 4 other members of the health department’s executive committee were affected by recent changes in the central office. (READ: Garin under fire over DOH 'revamp')
The changes happened barely a month after Garin took the position of Acting Secretary following the month-long leave of Ona, which is supposed to end on November 28.
Aquino had earlier said he has asked Ona to go on leave to "prepare answers" to his questions on the government's vaccination campaign, and the balance between preventive and curative aspects of public health.
The National Bureau of Investigation is looking into DOH's purchase in 2012 of one million units of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine 10 (PCV 10) – a vaccine used for the immunization of infants and children against pulmonary diseases – worth over P833 million. Complaints from some sectors alleged that DOH procured PCV 10 vaccines instead of a "more cost-effective" vaccine, the PCV 13.
Aquino had said that his satisfaction with Ona's performance would depend on how well he explains his side on the vaccination controversy against him. (READ: Still satisfied with Ona? Aquino mum) – Rappler.com