President Benigno S. Aquino III views the exhibits after addressing the 65th Session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific at the Reception Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Monday (October 13). The Philippines’ hosting of the 65th Session is historically significant considering that after a quarter of a century, another Aquino is addressing the regional committee as President of the Philippines. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III views the exhibits after addressing the 65th Session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific at the Reception Hall of the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Monday (October 13). The Philippines’ hosting of the 65th Session is historically significant considering that after a quarter of a century, another Aquino is addressing the regional committee as President of the Philippines. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Oct 30 (Mabuhay) – Health Secretary Enrique Ona has filed an official leave of absence to attend to some “personal matters,” including his health.

“It’s due to personal matters, including health matters,” Ona said in a text message Thursday when asked on the reason for his leave. He did not elaborate on his health concerns.

Ona said his leave was effective Thursday, October 29. Health Undersectary Janette Garin has been named officer-in-charge of the Department of Health (DOH).

Ona said his leave would only last for “just a few weeks” as he has “some personal matters to fix.”

In a separate text message, Garin confirmed she’s been designated OIC of the DOH.

Ona’s leave came as the DOH is in the thick of preparations to prevent the possible entry of the Ebola virus, which has killed thousands in West Africa, in the country.

His leave also came amid speculations that he was about to be replaced by President Benigno Aquino III due to issues with his performance.

Ona no longer replied to text query when asked about the rumor. He was also not picking up calls.

Ona was no longer present in the Aquino-led Cabinet meeting held at the Malacañang on Wednesday regarding preparations for the Ebola virus. It was Garin who attended for the DOH.

Garin, meanwhile, denied there was a leadership change in the DOH. (MNS)