MANILA – Health Secretary-on-leave Enrique Ona defied the advise of the World Health Organization (WHO) in approving a questionable obtaining of vaccines by his department two years ago.
According to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) of its ongoing probe into the issue of the procurement of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine 10 (PCV 10) was highlighted in the initial report.
PCV10 is a vaccine used to prevent pulmonary diseases among children.
“That’s what I know. That’s in the initial report of the NBI because they already have an initial report,” said de Lima.
She added, “Whatever I said earlier, that was what I knew based on facts, based on the referral that I forwarded to the NBI.”
The investigation started last June after the Office of the President received complaints from stakeholders saying that DOH officials approved the procurement of PCV 10 in 2012 despite the recommendations that PCV 13 is more suitable and cost effective of the following agencies: National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management, Formulary Executive Council and the WHO.
Earlier, the Bids and Awards Committee was reportedly prepared to order PCV 13, however Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag “all of a sudden, as alleged, ordered the procurement of PCV 10.”
Aside from this, Ona reportedly received the ire of President Aquino because of his involvement in other issues which include his P600-million request for the rehabilitation and renovation of the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine; alleged special requests like the possible turnover of a high-end P3-million Toyota Land Cruiser for him and an undersecretary, along with a utility Toyota Hilux; the inauguration of a medical facility in northern Luzon that President Aquino cancelled at the last minute; and the proposed P1-billion rehabilitation of state-run Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital.
Ona is currently on a month-long leave because of allergic reaction to hair dye.