HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, welcomed the reappointment of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.
“We are delighted that President Duterte reaffirmed his trust in Secretary Ubial, whom we consider a staunch tobacco control ally. We have had the privilege of working with her over the years and can attest to her competence, integrity, and commitment to bringing about a healthier and smoke-free Philippines,” said Mary Ann Fernandez-Mendoza, President of HealthJustice.
The Malacañan Palace released last July 4 the appointment papers of Ubial, who was first bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) last March. The CA was not able to confirm her appointment after repeated postponements of confirmation hearings prior to the adjournment of Congress.
“We are positive that the Health Department will take the lead in implementing the smoke-free executive order. After all, Sec. Ubial herself worked closely with the President on it,” Mendoza said.
HealthJustice, along with other tobacco control advocates, earlier showed high hopes and optimism following the announcement of the appointment of Ubial.
Ubial received a World No Tobacco Day Award last May 30 from the World Health Organization (WHO). She was recognized for her active involvement in conceptualizing the Red Orchid Awards and in developing the “smoke-free EO” or Duterte’s Executive Order 26 prohibiting smoking in public spaces.
“Having an ally at the helm of the Health Department inspires hope among us advocates. We trust that the President will continue to keep close and recognize health policymakers who have proven themselves incorruptible despite Philippines being once identified as having the strongest tobacco lobby in Asia,” Fernandez Mendoza added.
HealthJustice is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner of the NCD Alliance.