By: Jennifer P. Rendon
Representative Janette Garin of the first district of Iloilo said she will immediately resign her post if Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza could prove his claims against vaccines.
Garin, former Health Secretary, was referring to the claims made by Atienza that the “misapplication” of the vaccine caused parents to fear the government’s vaccination program.
Atienza, who is not a medical doctor, also claimed that the tetanus toxoid program implemented by the Department of Health in 1995 caused sterility.
This compelled Garin, a medical doctor by profession, to stand up and question why Atienza was allowed to speak and “spread misinformation that tetanus toxoid causes sterility.”
Subsequently, Atienza dared Garin for a televised debate about the Dengvaxia mass vaccination program. The loser in the debate should resign as a lawmaker.
“Yes, I will resign if Rep. Atienza could prove that Dengvaxia causes deaths,” she said.
Garin stressed that she respects Atienza.
“I think the point of Rep. Atienza, because he’s standing and was speaking, just because he’s a congressman, you could say whatever you want to say,” she said. “Magpati ang mga nanay ta, makaluluoy na sila ya.”
(If there are mothers who will believe, that will be regretful.)
Again, “tetanus toxoid that allegedly causes sterility and miscarriage is fake news. That’s not true. Measles vaccine being linked to autism is also fake news. Dengue vaccine and deaths is also fake news. Polio vaccine and sterility is also fake news,” Garin said.
This misinformation, she added, are basically the reasons why vaccines scare resulted in the outbreak of previously-preventable diseases.
Garin, the House deputy minority leader, said there was no ounce of hesitation in accepting Atienza’s date since her statements are all based on science.
After accepting Atienza’s challenge, will she also throw the same challenge at him?
“Indi ko na pag-patulan. My point is, even if you’re elected, you’re power has limits. It doesn’t mean that because you’re an elected official, you could lie. No. That’s why we are called honorables because you should act like one. Being honorable means being responsible for public statements that you are releasing, especially if it will cost lives,” she said.
Garin was health secretary when Dengvaxia mass vaccination was administered on schoolchildren in regions with high incidents of dengue.
Recently, Garin and other lawmakers have lambasted Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta for allegedly creating a vaccine scare on Dengvaxia.
Several health advocates claimed that the immunization scare is due to misinformation peddled by pseudo-experts on vaccines.
Garin said that there are 58 countries all over the world doing routine immunization on polio.
On the other hand, Dengvaxia was used in 21 countries, including those in Europe and even the United States.
Garin earlier said she will file a bill that seeks to penalize doctors, individuals, and media outlets that will spread false information regarding public health.