MANILA - Former president Benigno Aquino III on Monday criticized a forensics expert who slammed his administration's vaccination program despite allegedly having a certification similar to those from Recto, a street infamous for the sale of fake documents.
"Lahat na lang po may opinyon, kuwalipikado man o hindi -- lalo na po may isang maingay na ang certification ay tila isang antas lang sa nabibiling diploma sa Recto," Aquino said during a House hearing into the immunization drive.
(Everyone has an opinion, whether qualified or not -- especially one noisy individual whose certification is just a notch above the diplomas you can buy in Recto.)
"May nagsiyasat sa certification niya at nagsulat ng artikulo. Galing po ang certification ng maingay na ito sa kuwestyonableng kurso kung saan manonood ka lang daw ng video nang 1 oras at kalahati saka mag-exam nang open book at matapos mong magbayad ng $660 ay certified ka na sa forensics," he added.
(Someone checked his certification and wrote an article. The certification of this noisy person was from a questionable course, where you'd just watch a video for an hour and half, take an exam with your book open, pay $660 and get certified in forensics.)
Aquino did not say who he was referring to.
The Public Attorney's Office had claimed that its forensics experts have found a pattern in the death of at least 18 children who received the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia under the Aquino administration.
Aquino's spokesperson Abigail Valte recently wrote an article saying that Dr. Erwin Erfe, who led PAO's examination, received forensic training from a "certification mill."
"I looked up Dr. Erfe on LinkedIn and found that his profile lists him as a 'Fellow of and Certified Forensic Physician of the American College of Forensic Examiners Inst," Valte said in a Malaya article.
"Former members and other critics call ACFEI a 'certification mill,' and 'expertise on the go,' and these were essentially confirmed when a student named Leah Bartos (with no background in medicine or forensics) was able to become a member after paying 660 USD."
PAO chief Atty. Persida Acosta, however, defended Erfe, saying the latter has training in forensic anthropology and has been a medico-legal consultant since 1996.
During the hearing, Aquino said that Dengvaxia may cause fever for 2 days, lower platelet count and bruising -- but not circulatory failure, profound shock syndrome or organ impairment, according to its maker, France's Sanofi Pasteur.
He reiterated that his administration rolled out the Dengvaxia program in response to a spike in the number of dengue cases in 2012 and 2013.