Former Department of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial has called as “harassment” a libel case filed against her and three others by another former DoH chief, Janette Garin.
“I have not read the complaint, I cannot comment. But I think it’s malicious to probably stop me and the three other doctors from testifying in the ongoing Senate and Congress hearings on Dengvaxia. It’s just harassment,” Ubial said in a text message on Saturday.
“What is my motive? I’m nobody now,” she added.
Last Friday, Garin filed before the Iloilo Provincial Prosecutor’s Office four counts of libel against Ubial, former consultant Francisco Cruz, former DoH Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa and health reform advocate Anthony Leachon.
The four were charged with violation of Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code and/or Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
In an interview with local media, Garin said the Ubial group is creating public hysteria with their statements on implementation of the dengue immunization program of the DoH under the Aquino administration.
“That is no longer good. They are not only maligning the person but they are also creating public confusion and that is difficult to make accusations if you become part of hysteria, if you tolerate panic and disrupt public health programs. The impact is very huge because we are not only the ones to be affected but also the younger generations,” she added.
Garin said she was “maligned and dishonored” by statements made by Ubial in a January 14 news briefing.
She also pointed out the latter’s statements made against her on her Twitter account.
Cruz, in a news briefing last January, spoke of a “mafia-like” system inside the Health department involving Garin and other Health officials in which he said they have benefited from the P3.5-billion anti-dengue vaccine deal.
Herbosa commented in the past on the speed with which the vaccine was procured.
He also made statements on his Twitter account against Garin.
Leachon was implicated because of his statement last December regarding the supposedly hasty implementation of the anti-dengue vaccine program.
The controversial dengue immunization program started in 2016 during Garin’s term as DoH chief.
Her successor, Ubial, in a Senate hearing said she initially wanted to stop the vaccination program as early as March 2016, citing incomplete trials and hasty implementation but that she was pressured by some lawmakers to proceed with the progarm.
Ubial named Iloilo Rep. Oscar Garin Jr., husband of Garin, as among those who allegedly pressured her into continuing and expanding the vaccination program.
She said the congressman wanted to continue and expand the program to Central Visayas in one of the hearings for the 2018 budget.
He has denied Ubial’s allegations.