That was how Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia (Cebu, 3rd) described the allegations made by former Health secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial that she badgered the latter to allot more funds for the dengue vaccination program in Central Visayas.
Ubial had mentioned the congresswoman during the Senate hearings on the controversial acquisition of the Dengvaxia vaccine.
“She claims I was one of those who pressured her to expand the dengue vaccination program in Central Visayas. What does that say of her character? She’s supposed to be the secretary of health and she keeps flip-flopping on her statements. It’s dangerous,” Garcia told SunStar Cebu yesterday.
Garcia said that even before Ubial became secretary of the Department of Health (DOH), the dengue vaccination program was already expected to roll out in Cebu since the health department had included Cebu in the list of pilot areas for the dengue vaccine due to the high number of dengue cases and deaths in the province.
The DOH 7 reported that the number of dengue cases in Central Visayas reached 26,670 with 238 deaths last year.
The numbers were 87 percent higher compared to 2015, which only reported 14,247 cases and 82 deaths.
In Cebu, 9,137 dengue cases were recorded in 2016, compared to 2,486 reported cases in 2015.
The number of dengue-related deaths in Cebu reached 74 in 2016, compared to 25 deaths in 2015.
Garcia said that during the DOH’s budget hearing, she questioned Ubial for stopping the dengue vaccination program initiated by the previous administration since there were still plenty of stocks of Dengvaxia that had yet to be distributed. She said the national government spent P3 billion to acquire the dengue vaccines from Sanofi Pasteur.
Garcia wondered why Ubial singled her out when other lawmakers had also asked for the expansion of the dengue vaccination program to their respective districts.
Garcia also questioned Ubial for naming Iloilo First District Rep. Oscar Garin Jr., husband of former health secretary Janette Garin, as one of those who allegedly pressured her to continue the dengue vaccination program.
She believes Ubial is being used by the Liberal Party to attack her because of her role in the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on December 16, 2017.
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