MANILA, Philippines – The lawmaker-husband of former Health chief Janette Garin has denied pressuring then Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial into buying more dengue vaccines to continue the government’s now-controversial program.
In her testimony at the Senate early this week, Ubial quoted minutes from the DOH’s August 2014 budget deliberations wherein Iloilo 1st District Representative Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., supposedly pressured her into providing additional fund for the dengue vaccines to continue its roll out after the first and second doses.
“In the last budget hearing, one of the representatives that asked me to buy more dengue vaccine and put it in the 2018 budget is no other than Oscar Garin Jr.,” Ubial said.
But Rep. Garin said he was merely doing his job as a lawmaker since it is the work of the Congress to scrutinize budgets submitted to it by different departments and for projects to be implemented in the congressional districts.
Garin further explained he only conveyed his concern especially that it appeared some children in the NCR will only receive 2 doses and will have to pay for the third dose.
“Simpleng tanong ng isang mambabatas. Hindi ko alam na sa pananaw ni Secretary Ubial, ang tanong pala ay pressure na. I do hope this somehow clarifies things,” Inquirer quoted Rep. Garin as saying.
[It was a simple question from a lawmaker. I didn’t realize that in Secretary Ubial’s view, the question was already a pressure.]
The lawmaker also belied Ubial’s allegation that her appointment as Health secretary was ‘prejudiced’ due to her opposition to the program; saying he was not even a member of the Commission of Appointment (CA) in Congress.