Aquino hits 'questionable' Dengvaxia experts

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Aquino hits 'questionable' Dengvaxia experts
Former President Benigno Aquino III listens to resource persons after testifying at the Senate probe on the dengue vaccine on Dec. 14, 2017.
Geremy Pintolo, File

MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III on Monday criticized so-called experts making opinions on the Dengvaxia and lamented that the issue is being politicized.

In his opening statement before the House inquiry into the dengue vaccine mess, Aquino suggested that only experts from the medical field should talk about the issue.

"Masakit po nito: Lahat na lang po may opinyon, kwalipikado man o hindi, lalo na po 'yung isang maingay na ang certification ay tila antas lang lamang sa nabibiling diploma sa Recto," Aquino said.

(What hurts is this: Everybody has an opinion, whether qualified or not, especially that noisy one whose certification equates to a fake diploma in Recto.)

The former president did not mention a name but there have been rumors that Erwin Erfe, forensic expert of the Public Attorney's Office, is a bogus forensic expert.

"May nagsiyasat sa certification niya, at nagsulat ng artikulo. Galing po ang certification ng maingay na ito, sa kwestyunableng kurso kung saan manonood ka lang raw ng video ng isang oras kalahati, saka mag-exam na open book, at matapos mong magbayad ng 660 dollars ay certified ka na sa forensics," Aquino added.

(Someone looked into his certification and wrote an article. The certification of this noisy one came from a questionable course where you only watch a video for half an hour, take an open book exam and after paying 660 dollars you are certified in forensics.)

Former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral earlier question the autopsy performed by PAO on children believed to have died because of the Dengvaxia vaccine. She said that the PAO should leave the investigation to the experts of the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH).

Erfe had linked Dengvaxia to the deaths of several children due to "patterns" he claimed were common to all patients such as bleeding and swelling of certain vital organs.

Doctors from all over the country, however, had called out the PAO for causing hysteria due to their pronouncements on the issue.

Aquino lamented that more people are refusing vaccines due to the issue, which means that they are refusing protection from illnesses.

"Katumbas noon ang posibilidad ng karamdaman, at karugtong noon ang lahat ng uri ng problema: gaya ng pagpapa-ospital, kawalan ng kita, at posible rin ang kamatayan. Baka di ito ang sadya ng mga namumulitika, pero narito na po tayo ngayon," Aquino said.

(The probability of illness is possible, and thereafter come all kinds of problems: such as hospitalization, loss of income and death are possible. Those who are politicizing the issue may not have intended this, but here we are now.)

Earlier this month, the director of the UP-PGH called said that medical experts and concerned government agencies should have a common ground over the dengue immunization program instead of fanning hysteria.

"I’d like to ask everyone in power, I think if you want to stop the hysteria, since you have the power, tell everyone to stop talking, including us," UP-PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi said.

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