Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial maintains that her international trips are all aboveboard
15 foreign trips that she took in the past year, when the Cabinet official faced her second confirmation hearing on Tuesday, October 3.
“Naturally, as head of the department, the secretary of health is invited to a lot of conferences abroad. However, I am a bit concerned about the numerous reports that reached our office that describe the secretary’s travels as being too numerous or too often for the length of time that she has occupied her post,” said Sotto.
“For example, 6 foreign trips in two and a half months. Some are saying these are wasteful for government funds because of the number of people accompanying the secretary on her travels,” he added.
Ubial said she actually took 15 trips abroad already, 3 of which were ordered and funded by the Office of the President. Most of her travels involved international conferences like the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the 7th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy in Vietnam.
Ubial said her 6 other trips were funded by the Philippine government, while the rest were funded by international agencies like WHO, Bloomberg, the International Leprosy Association, and Japan International Cooperation Agency.
“And I would like to categorically state that the difference between me and my predecessor is that I travel economy and I stay in budget hotels as that is the directive of the President to all his Cabinet members,” Ubial told the CA members.
Sotto then told Ubial that he received reports that 15 Department of Health (DOH) officials joined her entourage in her trip to Cuba last year.
Ubial clarified that only 10 officials duly approved by the DOH travel and selection committee traveled with her.
“Those are pictures of the interpreters, the guide in Cuba, and the Philippine mission in Mexico sent two representatives. In the picture are 4 Filipino students who are studying medicine in Cuba,” she said.