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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Garin files libel case vs Ubial, others over vaccine

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FORMER Health Secretary Janette Garin on Friday filed a libel case against her successor Paulyn Jean Ubial and three other medical practitioners for blaming her for the Dengvaxia mess.

She filed her complaint at the Iloilo Prosecutor’s Office.

The other respondents in the case are former Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa, health advocate  Tony Leachon and Ubial’s consultant Francisco Cruz.

Garin filed her case even as seven incumbent officials of the Health Department on Friday filed the third libel complaint against ex-Health consultant Francisco Cruz over his allegation that they were members of a corrupt group in the department.

Undersecretaries Maria Carolina Vidal-Taiño, Gerardo Bayugo, Lilibeth David, Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago, Financial and Management Service director Laureano Cruz, Disease Prevention and Control Bureau director Maria Joyce Ducusin, and Health Promotion and Communication Services director Mar Wynn Bello lodged the complaint at the Manila Prosecutor’s Office.

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Earlier in the year, Cruz, a former consultant to Ubial, tagged the complainants in the list of past and incumbent Health officials who allegedly benefited from the conversion of funds for big-ticket Helth projects, such as the procurement of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

Garin has been repeatedly blamed for the deaths of several children immunized with the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. 

French drug maker Sanofi Pasteur had said in November that the vaccine might cause more severe dengue symptoms if given to individuals who had never contracted dengue. 

The company has, however, asserted that there was no proof yet that Dengvaxia had caused the dengue deaths. 

Garin, who was Health chief during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, spearheaded the government’s dengue vaccination program in which some 830,000 children were immunized with Dengvaxia.

    But the campaign was suspended in December last year and the drug was pulled out from the market.

    At the Senate inquiry last year, Ubial told senators that Garin’s husband, Iloilo Rep. Oscar Garin Jr., pushed her to expand the dengue immunization program in Central Visayas.

    “Again, during the budget hearings I was pressured to expand to other areas, and let me note that in the last budget hearing”•and this is documented in Congress”•one of the representatives that asked me to buy more dengue vaccines and put it into the 2018 budget is no other than Oscar Garin Jr.,” Ubial said in a Senate hearing in December 2017.

    Garin denied Ubial’s claims.

    Leachon, meanwhile, said Garin should be liable for the Dengvaxia mess due to the “magnitude of her involvement” in sealing the P3-billion vaccine deal with Sanofi.

    Garin earlier denied the allegations she negotiated the price of the dengue vaccines with Sanofi.


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