‘DOH chief will have rough sailing at CA’

OFW party-list Rep. Marissa Magsino on Sunday raised strong doubts Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa’s case before the Office of the Ombudsman would not go unnoticed once the powerful Commission on Appointments starts deliberations on his confirmation as member the Marcos Jr.’s administration.

“If there are legal impediments to Secretary Herbosa’s appointment, this will not go unnoticed by the CA members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate,” she said.

A member of the House minority bloc, Magsino expressed confidence that the CA “would do its job of rigorously scrutinizing Herbosa’s fitness to head the Department of Health.”

She said the CA was expected to determine whether or not the Ombudsman ruling that slapped Herbosa a lifetime ban from holding any government post would also disqualify him from becoming the health secretary.

“And for a sensitive and crucial position such as the secretary of Health, this will undergo an even more meticulous assessment because we carry with us the lessons of the pandemic — that the DOH’s policies and programs play a fundamental and pivotal role in each of the lives of our citizens, thus it needs an extremely qualified leader and manager,” she noted.

Then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, in a 2016 resolution, found Herbosa guilty of administrative offense in connection with anomalies surrounding the 2012  hospital modernization program.

Herbosa was ordered dismissed from government service and perpetually disqualified from holding any public office.

The Ombudsman also indicted Herbosa, together with then Health Secretary Enrique Ona and former assistant secretary Nicolas Lutero for graft for violation of  Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or Republic Act No. 3019.

The case was filed with the Sandiganbayan.

The health officials were accused of involvement in irregularities that marred the implementation of the P392-million hospital modernization project under the Aquino administration.

Magsino said Herbosa’s confirmation was expected to spark debate among CA members as it was noted that the penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office with forfeiture of retirement benefits might be cited as a strong reason  to bar him from continuing as health secretary.

Herbosa sought a reversal of the Ombudsman decision before the Court of Appeals.

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