MANILA, Philippines — Do not tolerate recklessness in public health and always put people’s health and safety above all else.
Public Attorneys’ Office Chief Persida Rueda Acosta offered these pieces of advice on Friday, stressing that those are the only ways to make the public trust vaccines again.
This comes after surveys conducted by Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia showed the public’s hesitation to get a Covid-19 vaccine even if it is free of charge.
“Give justice to the dead victims and survivors and to punish those who pushed for the experimental Dengvaxia and disregarded safety to send a message that the Philippine government will never countenance such recklessness in public health and will always put people’s health and safety above all else,” Acosta said in a statement.
The PAO has filed several complaints against former and incumbent health officials responsible for the government’s anti-dengue vaccination campaign using the Dengvaxia jab. Also included in PAO’s case are officers of Dengvaxia manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur.
More than 80 complaints are still pending before the Department of Justice while a homicide case is already with a Quezon City court.
In the homicide case before Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 107, the arraignment of former Health Secretary and now lawmaker Janette Garin and four others is set on March 3. Pre-trial is also set on the same day.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque earlier said that the Dengvaxia scare has put the government in a difficult position in the implementation of various vaccination programs.
Acosta, however, previously said the public’s lack of trust in the government’s immunization program should not be blamed on PAO.
“The PAO is not anti-vaccine. For lack of a better defense, personalities linked to Dengvaxia have vilified the PAO, making the PAO appear as anti-vaxxers out to destroy people’s confidence in vaccines,” her office’s statement said.
“PAO will never encroach into politics, nor in public health issues. It seeks only to perform its mandate of giving justice to the victims and survivors and follow the DOJ directive of assisting Dengvaxia victims,” it added.
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