President Benigno Aquino 3rd has accepted the resignation of Health Secretary Enrique Ona, Malacañang announced on Friday.
“Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., informed Health Secretary Enrique Ona that the President has accepted his resignation effective today [Friday],” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a statement.
Ona has been controversial after he dropped out of public sight—at first claiming he had eczema and had an allergic reaction to a hair dye he used.
But President Aquino later revealed he wanted Ona to explain on why he went against a recommendation of the World Health Organization to purchase a type of anti-pneumonia vaccine.
The President appointed Janette Garin as acting health secretary.
In a statement released after the controversy, Ona denied any wrongdoing and said the vaccine was cheaper than the one recommended by the WHO.
He said at the time of the purchase, it was not yet clear which product was more effective
Earlier this week, Ona submitted a sworn affidavit to the National Bureau of Investigation in connection with the alleged anomalous purchase of P833-million worth of anti-pneumonia vaccines in 2012.
In a 10-page affidavit, Ona insisted that he chose PCV 10 that was a lot cheaper than PCV 13, and there was nothing questionable about the purchase.
“In the midst of the medical debate on which vaccine is more cost-effective, I, as the secretary of health, exercised my best judgment in deciding to procure PCV 10, instead of PCV 13. While I do not exactly recall the specific prices of each vaccine, I know that PCV 10 is substantially lower than PCV 13,” Ona said.
He added that contrary to news reports, the purchase of PCV 13 was never endorsed by the World Health Organization.