Ubial: Garin’s lawmaker-husband asked me to buy more Dengvaxia vaccine during budget hearing
Former Health Secretary Paulyn Rosell-Ubial revealed on Thursday that a member of the House of Representatives had asked her to buy more Dengvaxia vaccine and allocate budget for it in 2018.
During the joint hearing of the Senate blue ribbon and health and finance committees, Ubial said she was “positive” that her confirmation was prejudiced by her strong opposition to the anti-dengue vaccination drive even before she became health secretary.
“I am positive that my confirmation was prejudiced by this issue that I strongly and openly opposed at the start, and when I was Health secretary I tried to do damage control,” Ubial told the panel.
“But again, during budget hearings I was pressured to expand to other areas and let me note that in the last budget hearing, and this was documented in the minutes, one of the representatives that asked me to buy more dengue vaccine and put it in the 2018 budget is no other than (Rep.) Oscar Richard Garin Jr. your honor, thank you sir,” she added.
Iloilo Rep. Garin is the husband of former Health Secretary Janette Garin, whose term saw the implementation of the P3.5 billion anti-dengue vaccination drive in 2016.
Last October 10, the Commission on Appointments rejected Ubial’s ad interim appointment to lead the Department of Health (DOH).
Ubial read a portion of the minutes of the House committee on appropriations budget hearing last Aug. 14, 2017.
According to the minutes, Rep. Garin said: “The point ko lang, you have to put additional budget dyan to comply for the third dose no? In this dengue vaccine? Kasi wala kang budget dyan for the dengue vaccine. You have to put budget for the dengue vaccine to continue this para hindi naman ma-prejudice yung 1st and 2nd dose mo.”
Ubial also said that there was a particular time in the hearing when lawmakers, specifically Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia, “badgered” her to “commit to expand the implementation of the dengue vaccination drive to Region 7.”
“There was a particular time in the hearing that at the end of that one-hour exchanges questions and badgering me trying to make me commit to expand the implementation of dengue vaccine to region 7, that they will defer then budget of the DOH if I do not do that,” Ubial said.
Reacting to Ubial’s accusations, Garin said her husband appeared to have been concerned with the way he asked his questions.
“For the record Oscar Garin is my husband at hindi po sya miyembro ng CA. At listening to the minutes kanina, he was concerned with doon sa nabakunahan ng first dose ng second dose, paano yung 3rd dose,” Garin said.
“My point here, your honor, is sino po ba kami para impluwensyahan ang CA? It’s an independent body that should not be dragged in pointing accusations to the DOH,” she added.
The former health chief also pointed out that it is natural for lawmakers to request for their constituents.
“I came from Congress for nine years and it is but natural for us to request for our constituents. That is not threatening. Your honor, I would respect the personal views of Secretary Ubial, but coming from Senate and then from the Cabinet, we always serve at the disposal of the people, our superiors and whoever appointed us,” she said. /jpv/ac
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