Instead of blaming the Public Attorney’s Office over a national dengue epidemic, PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta on Tuesday told those behind the P3.5-billion Dengvaxia procurement and mass vaccination to just face the criminal raps filed against them.
“Am I the mosquito? Am I the virus? Am I the one who announced that Dengvaxia was not safe for seronegative patients?” Acosta told reporters in Quezon City.
“As early as 2016 there have already been Dengvaxia-related deaths.”
Acosta said health officials must not put the blame on her for the dengue outbreak the country is now experiencing.
“Why blame me and PAO if there is a dengue outbreak? Why use diversionary tactics? Why not just face the cases filed against them?” Acosta said.
She denied that PAO fabricated evidence for the Dengvaxia cases, nor did she “spread hysteria with unfounded claims.”
She said it was the responsibility of the health officials to address the problem of dengue infection.
“My husband and eldest child had a dengue infection twice. [Fortunately] They were saved. But what about the others who could not even avail of free dextrose?” Acosta said.
At least 44 counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and 44 civil suits have been filed against former Health Secretary Janette Garin, now an Iloilo representative; Health Secretary Francisco Duque III; former and active health officials; Philippine Children’s Medical Center director Julius Lecciones, and executives of French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and its distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp. for the Dengvaxia-related deaths of 44 children.
Acosta slammed lawyer Wilfredo Garrido Jr. who accused her of corruption before the Office of the Ombudsman in October 2018.
“That’s comedy. Who is Garrido? He is a comedian [and] fictitious,” she said.
“You cannot put a good man down. Speak up Garrido. Who is your boss?”
A week ago, Garrido filed an unsigned manifestation of complaint, supposedly from disgruntled PAO lawyers, seeking Acosta’s suspension for her alleged corruption involving the purchase of office supplies for the Dengvaxia cases.
“That’s fake news,” Acosta said.
She said complaint was part of a “black propaganda and demolition job” to discredit her credibility.
“Because they know we have a very strong case,” she said.
On Tuesday, the PAO chief filed a consolidated position paper with the Ombudsman, urging Ombudsman Samuel Martires to dismiss the charges filed by Garrido “for insufficiency of evidence to support the allegations, and for utter want of merit.”
About 100 PAO lawyers have issued a manifesto denying that they submitted an unsigned manifestation against Acosta.
Jonathan de Guzman, father of Elijah Rain de Guzman who died after getting three doses of Dengvaxia vaccine shots, tagged Garin and Duque as behind the smear campaign against Acosta and PAO Forensic Laboratory Chief Erwin Erfe.
According to Erfe, a source from the Health department informed him about the three phases of a plot to oust and silence them.
“We have these so-called Blue August of a demolition job and Red September of the elimination of evidence. The third one will be in October,” he said.
Acosta said they were just following the orders of the Department of Justice to conduct a forensic examination on children who supposedly died after getting the Dengvaxia vaccine.
READ: PAO chief accused of scheming to defraud governmentREAD: Ombudsman orders PAO chief to answer graft charges READ: PAO chief says she’s not liable for the creation of forensic lab
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