MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III admitted on Monday that the fate of Health Secretary Enrique Ona depends on his answers to questions on the government’s health programs.
Asked if Ona still has his trust and confidence, Aquino said: “[The answer] will come after the results of the answers to questions propounded to him.”
Ona supposedly took a leave of absence due to his allergic reaction to hair dye.
Aquino said he had questions on the immunization program of the Department of Health, which Ona needs to answer.
“He asked for time to prepare his answers… He will not be able to prepare for those if he continues his day to day activities,” he added.
Aquino did not explain further, but said he wants a balance between the preventive and curative aspects of medicine for public health.
“I keep on emphasizing that people should not get sick in order to prevent hospitalization… He has that aspect of balance, insofar as hospitals are concerned. Admittedly, we have a lot of hospitals that have been left behind by time,” he said.
The Philippine Star reported on Monday that Ona was forced to take a leave after Aquino got irritated by his request for a bigger allocation for the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) amid the possible spread of the Ebola virus in the Philippines.
The report said Ona requested for P600 million for the RITM, even if reports quoted the amount as P500 million.
“Hindi puwede ora-orada [He can’t ask for it hastily], especially that the budget deliberation is already at the Senate… We have a process that needs to be followed. He should have brought it up in the beginning. There’s a need [RITM], but there is a process that needs to be followed,” Aquino said. (MNS)