MANILA - The Public Attorney's Office on Wednesday denied that it urged a group of parents to confront former Health Secretary Janette Garin, under whose term their children were given a controversial dengue vaccine.
Garin said she heard the parents received instructions from PAO to confront her as she was leaving the Congress building on Monday after a hearing on the vaccine Dengvaxia.
"Aba, kasinungalingan ho iyan. Dapat hindi ka nagsisinungaling. Kasalanan ho sa Diyos iyan. Wala po akong inutusan," PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta told DZMM.
(That is a lie. You shouldn't lie because that is a sin against God. I did not give orders to anyone.)
The parents, she said, were among some 3,000 who sought PAO's help on Monday out of fear that their children may suffer health risks from Dengvaxia.
Dengvaxia could lead to more severe symptoms if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne disease before, French drug maker Sanofi said last year. This had prompted the government to suspend its dengue immunization campaign, which has administered Dengvaxia to some 830,000 public school students.
PAO has since claimed finding a "pattern" that led to the deaths of at least 5 Dengvaxia recipients.
Garin however said PAO has been "highly irresponsible" in publicly linking the deaths to Dengvaxia, while Senator JV Ejercito reprimanded the agency for supposedly creating hysteria.
"Hindi PAO ang nag-create ng hysteria, Sanofi ang nag-umpisa," Acosta protested.
(It was not PAO that created hysteria; Sanofi started this.)
Acosta said her agency will continue conducting autopsies on Dengvaxia recipients on the request of parents.
She also rejected Sanofi's request for its consultant, Dr. Raquel Fortun, to observe PAO's forensic examination, saying this may "infiltrate" evidence against the firm, which is facing a civil suit for damages.