It’s final: Garin’s libel complaint vs Ubial, et al. dismissed
MANILA, Philippines —The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed with finality the libel complaint filed by former Department of Health (DOH) secretary Janette Garin against her successor, former secretary Paulyn Ubial, and other former health officials over the public allegations regarding the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy.
In a six-page resolution made public Wednesday, the DOJ stood by its October, 2018 resolution dismissing the complaint for lack of probable cause.
The DOJ said the motions for reconsideration filed by Garin and other DOH officials against Ubial, former DOH consultant Dr. Francisco Cruz, former DOH executive Dr. Teodoro Herbosa and health reform advocate Dr. Anthony Leachon failed to raise new issues that would warrant a reversal of their previous ruling.
“A perusal of the foregoing motions shows no new matter which was not taken into consideration in assessing /evaluating the complaints. Thus, there is no compelling reason to alter or modify our joint resolution,” read the ruling signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Lilian Doris Alejo and approved by Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadullon.
The DOJ maintained that the accusations made by respondents against Garin did not have malice — a key element in the crime of libel.
“While there is no established link of the effect of the said drug [Dengvaxia] to the human body, it appears that there were already some protests/studies/comments from medical practitioners relative to the administration of this vaccine to the human body. Thus, there is this general outrage when many defenseless school children died,” the DOJ reiterated.
The DOJ further explained that it could not find malice in the statements of the respondents who were simply “vocal in their objections in the administration of Dengvaxia vaccine, and concerned about its effects in the human body, had acted out of the sense of justice.”
The complaint was filed at the Iloilo Prosecutors Office following Ubial’s accusation that corruption took place in the anti-dengue vaccination scheme under Garin’s watch during the previous administration.
But the DOJ affirmed the defense of the respondents that they only issued the statements “out of the sense of justice.”
Ubial, Cruz, Leachon, and Herbosa said their statements were meant to “educate the public as the issues are clearly imbued with the highest public interest” because Dengvaxia was administered to children.
Garin and 36 other former and incumbent health officials as well as executives of manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp are facing complaints of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under the Revised Penal Code and violations of Anti-Torture Act and Consumer Act before the DOJ for the deaths of children inoculated with the controversial anti-dengue vaccine.
The DOJ has already concluded preliminary investigation on the first two batches of complaints involving 17 victims and has started hearing the third batch of complaints involving 13 victims. /ee
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