‘It also hurts to be called gaga at bobo’

29 Dec

“An injury is much sooner forgotten than an insult.” Philip Stanhope

By Alex P. Vidal

IF a man occupies the highest position in any organization, he is hailed and praised to high heavens especially by those who have the propensity to ask favors in return for the praises.

If a woman is on top, she is cursed, insulted, ridiculed and underestimated.

To add insult, she is called names.

It’s a male-dominated-world mentality all over again.

The grapevine in the Department of Health (DOH) says acting Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin can’t automatically occupy the post vacated by resigned Secretary Enrique “Ike” Ona.

President Noynoy Aquino is expected to announce the new DOH secretary in January 2015, sources said.

Undersecretary Loreto-Garin, 42, former Iloilo first district House representative, will continue to sit in acting capacity.

Surrounded by high-ranking career employees and subalterns whose loyalty is with Ona and the previous male secretaries, Loreto-Garin initially felt a little bit uneasy especially when President Aquino accepted Ona’s resignation before Christmas Day.

She had revealed earlier that “politics is very dirty” within the department.

“It’s a sad thing. Sa isang taon ko doon, I tried hard to bridge (the gap) with Secretary Ona,” she said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s “The Bottomline with Boy Abunda.”

“I am still trying to absorb the punches and praises. When I was told I would be officer in charge, I thought ‘okay, it would be for a month’… And then one by one issue came out, a lot of problems, a lot of misinformation… There were friendships being challenged,” she said.

“If I’m doing public service, why do I have to experience these punches in my life? Sanay ako sa pulitika, a clean debate. But I was not used to character assassination. Nasasaktan ka rin na tinatawag kang gaga, bobo.”

She did not reveal who made those scurrilous statements.


The former solon had stopped consulting Ona, who was on leave for more than a month due to health reasons.

Ona’s supposed role in the allegedly questionable procurement of vaccines under his leadership worth P800-million is still being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

It was revealed later on that Ona’s policies and actions did not sit well with Mr. Aquino.

The atmosphere in the DOH is reportedly “patriarchal by nature”, and many senior male underlings find it “uncomfortable” working under “a political appointee with lesser experience.”

Since Dr. Carmencita Reodica, DOH secretary from March 1996  until June 1998, Loreto-Garin is the third female physician to occupy the DOH’s top post but only in acting capacity.

Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral briefly held the DOH portfolio from January until June 2010.

Both Reodica and Cabral came from the private sector did not hold political or elective positions before their DOH stint, while Garin served for three terms as congresswoman.

Reodica had 32 years of experience as a public health worker and government administrator before becoming a DOH boss

Cabral, a renowned cardiologist and top-ranked physician, was a professor at the UP College of Medicine and Pharmacology, scientist and a graduate of Medicine at the University of the Philippines and had served as director of the Philippine Heart Center as well as chief of Cardiology at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center before becoming a DOH chief.


Loreto-Garin started a Iloilo provincial board member and sat as the regional chair of the National Movement for Young Legislators and member of the National Board of the Provincial Board Members League of the Philippines.

She had been elected as the first Filipino board member of the nine-man executive board of the Parliamentary Network on the World Bank (PNoWB) when she became a member of the House of Representatives in 2004.

She had served as House deputy majority leader and figured in the curbing of fraud in the Philhealth, amendment of the Physician’s Act, and the Cheaper Medicines Bill.

Loreto-Garin was among those who advocated the pushed for the passage of the Reproductive Health Care Bill, Improved Midwifery Bill and the Magna Carta for Women.

She may not be the best DOH secretary (acting or permanent), but we beg to disagree with her detractors that she is gaga and bobo.

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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in HEALTH


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