MANILA (UPDATE 2) – Lawmakers on Tuesday rejected the appointment of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, who has worked in the public health system for nearly three decades.
The rejection from the Commission on Appointments meant that President Rodrigo Duterte would need to appoint a new head of the Department of Health.
In a statement, Malacañang said it regrets the "non-confirmation."
"We are deeply grateful for Sec. Ubial's service to the Health Department and for epitomizing the President's malasakit through her 'All for Health towards Health for All' Philippine Health Agenda," the Palace said.
"We wish Secretary Ubial well in all her future endeavors."
Last July, it was reported that Duterte threatened to sack Ubial in a bid to pressure the latter to speed up the procurement process of medical supplies for soldiers fighting in Marawi City.
Ubial was bypassed late last year after Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque raised concerns over her qualifications for the post.
With the commission's decision,"we averted a major public health disaster," Roque said in a statement.
"The DOH (Department of Health) deserves a decisive leader and I call on President Duterte to appoint an exceptional doctor with proven managerial skills to head the DOH," he said.
"The success of universal health care and all other health reforms of the administration lies in the hands of the next DOH Secretary. Let us not blow the opportunity the second time around," he added.
Ubial was with the DOH for 27 years, serving under 13 health secretaries, according to the department's website.
She was the fifth among President Rodrigo Duterte's cabinet appointees to be rejected, after the powerful bicameral body disapproved the appointments of Perfect Yasay Jr. (foreign affairs), Gina Lopez (environment), Judy Taguiwalo (social work), and Rafael Mariano (agrarian reform). -- with a report from Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News