“Secretary Ona’s leave is from Oct. 28 to Nov. 27. So that is his leave period. Nov. 28 is a Friday. So in effect his leave is one month,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said last week. “Some are asking if he has resigned – he has not. He is only on leave.”
Health Undersecretary Janet Garin was designated as officer-in-charge for the department.
Lacierda also said that the health secretary is on leave to attend to some health and personal issues.
“We’ve increased the universal health coverage. We have increased PhilHealth. We have increased a number of vaccinations. So all these were done under the leadership of Secretary Ike Ona,” the Presidential Spokesman added. “The bottom line – is the President satisfied with the performance of each Cabinet member? There has been no reason for us to say otherwise.”
“DOH will not be crippled or hampered by the absence of the head of agency. The work on Ebola is a multi-agency task, inter-agency task,” Lacierda said. “So insofar as the Department of Health is concerned, there are personnel who are handling that issue on the Ebola.”
However, other reports say, according to their sources, Secretary Ona was forced to take a leave and that Garin who is the acting secretary, not OIC, will eventually replace Ona. Reports said that the President was irritated with Ona’s PhP600 million allocation request to rehabilitate Research Institute of Tropical Medicine in preparation for the possible entry of Ebola virus in the country.