MANILA - Former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial on Thursday said she believes there was a deliberate effort to remove her from the Cabinet post and as chair of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
This, after lawmakers rejected Ubial's ad interim appointment as the secretary of the Department of Health, where she served for 27 years, under 13 secretaries.
"I don’t know (who,) but I am certain there is a calculated effort to remove me as DOH secretary and as chairperson of the board of PhilHealth," she said in an interview on ANC.
"I believe that there was a lot of destabilization and disinformation from among the ranks of PhilHealth because they felt that I was manipulative, I was trying to control PhilHealth, but I did not."
One of the allegations raised during her confirmation hearings was that she and the PhilHealth board suspended allowances and salary adjustments of all employees, but Ubial insisted she only had one vote in the board's collegial decision.
"If we suspended the giving of benefits, which were actually disallowed already by the Commission on Audit and was not allowed by the Governance Council, the role of the health secretary was as chair of the board. It’s a collegial body, so it’s the decision of the board, not mine alone," she said.
Ubial was also accused of influencing the PhilHealth board to oust its former President and CEO Hildegardes Dineros. Ubial denied this. "Of course not, I never did that for Philhealth, I can never do that in any position in government. I don’t manipulate. I just try to work hard and be honest," she said.
Dineros had also alleged that Ubial was "peddling lies" about his resignation because he was actually ousted from the post upon her "instigation."
"What is his proof that I lied? What is his proof that he did not resign? I have with me the minutes of the meeting, I have a video recording of the executive session, I have the board resolution that he resigned and the board accepted his resignation," retorted Ubial when asked about this in the interview.
"I don’t know, maybe his definition of resigned and ousted is different from my definition," she said.
Ubial said the other board members who were there with her in the executive session where Dineros resigned have signed petitions to say that "they were never approached by me and I never manipulated the results of that executive sessions."
While she accepted the Commission on Appointments decision as it is "part of the constitutional process," Ubial said she is willing to serve government again in another capacity.
She is also grateful to President Rodrigo Duterte for appointing her to the portfolio, which she held for about 15 months.
"I know up to the last minute he was behind me," she said of the chief executive, with whom she worked with when he was mayor of Davao City and she was the DOH regional director for Davao Region.