Garin files libel case vs Ubial, health officials over Dengvaxia blame

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2018 01:46 PM | Updated as of Oct 06 2018 06:02 AM

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

Garin filed the complaint at the Iloilo Prosecutor's Office.

Other respondents were former Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Dr. Ted Herbosa, health advocate Dr. Tony Leachon, and Ubial's consultant Dr. Francis Cruz.

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

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

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

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

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 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, that one of the representatives that asked me to buy more dengue vaccine and put it into the 2018 budget is no other than Oscar Garin Jr.," Ubial, also a former DOH chief, said in a Senate hearing in December 2017.

Rep. Garin denied Ubial's allegations.

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 allegations she negotiated the price of the dengue vaccines with Sanofi.

-- with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News