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Sunday, December 10, 2023

CA defers Herbosa’s confirmation

The bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) on Tuesday deferred the deliberations on Dr. Teodoro Herbosa’s designation as Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH).

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte, the CA majority leader for the House contingent, moved to suspend the confirmation of Herbosa’s appointment due to “lack of material time.”

Senator Christopher Go, Senate committee on health chairperson, approved Villafuerte’s motion.

Go said Herbosa needs to be re-appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. since Congress’ current regular session officially ends on September 30. It will resume its session on Nov. 5.

The Constitution empowers the 25-member CA to scrutinize the competence, suitability, and integrity of key presidential appointees, including Cabinet members, and to approve or disapprove them.

Under existing CA rules,  an ad interim appointment ceases to be valid upon disapproval by the commission or, if not confirmed, until the next adjournment of Congress.

President Marcos appointed Herbosa as Health Secretary on June 6.

Herbosa, 64, was DOH undersecretary from 2010 to 2015. He graduated from University of the Philippines College of Medicine and took his postgraduate studies at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine.

Herbosa is the only Cabinet member still awaiting the CA’s consent.

Go noted that only three committee members were able to ask several questions that dragged the confirmation hearings for almost three hours prior to its suspension.

According to the senator, the various questions for the secretary delved only on policies. No questions were raised on the alleged controversies and anomalies in which Herbosa was implicated.

Go said many members of the committee had their names listed to be able to question the Health chief.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Health Workers (AHWs) called on the CA to reject Herbosa’s confirmation.

“With Herbosa in the DOH for three months now, we see no change,” AHW President Robert Mendoza said. “Health workers are still overworked and underpaid, and the much-needed and long-delayed health emergency allowance is not yet provided.”

They also deplored Herbosa for his failure to defend the whopping P13.9-billion cut in the DOH proposed budget.

Mendoza noted that 69 DOH hospitals have suffered a combined P10-billion budget cut – a P1.7-billion cut in funds for specialty hospitals and a P2 billion budget cut for the Philippine General Hospital.

The Philippine National Aids Council and National Nutrition Council also suffered P8 million and P148-million slashes to their budgets, respectively.

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