Press Release
February 8, 2019


*Statement of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros

Persida Acosta's lies have slain children.

She stood at the gravesides of poor dead children to wage a vicious campaign of disinformation, pseudo-science and politically-motivated witch-hunts. Her lies and hysterics contributed directly to the erosion of public trust in our vaccination programs. And because of this, 55 children have lost their lives to measles, and an outbreak now threatens four regions of our country.

I call on Acosta: resign your post. An important agency like the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) cannot be left in the hands of a person with such a track record of lies, negligence and hyper-partisanship. She has brought shame and embarrassment on an office sustained by the selflessness, dedication and sacrifice of its idealistic lawyers and rank-and-file staff.

From the start, I already expressed my disappointment in Acosta for not including experts from the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) in their Dengvaxia investigation. Their expertise on the matter could have greatly contributed to PAO's probe, ended speculations that the issue was being politicized and prevented unnecessary panic and fear among the public.

Acosta's scaremongering and politically-motivated investigations on the Dengvaxia issue, that defied science and the advice of experts, sowed fear in the hearts of so many parents to have their children vaccinated since the past year. Because of her antics, faith in the advice of vaccine experts and doctors is on the decline. When there was an opportunity to clarify, she instead created confusion. A responsible public servant would have called for calm. Instead she sowed panic. The fact that she refuses any responsibility for her actions not only betrays public trust but also insults all the families she has injured.

Measles is a highly preventable disease. In many of our communities, vaccinations against measles are free, along with vaccines against other diseases such as polio and tetanus. All of these efforts and programs by our Department of Health (DOH) have been set back thanks to the actions of Acosta, and this is inexcusable.

I firmly reiterate my support for our DOH and its vaccination programs. I am urging government to increase its efforts towards greater vaccination coverage, especially in urban poor localities and far-flung areas where children are prone to measles and other preventable diseases.

Ang aking dalangin, sana naman, wala nang bata o kahit sino pa ang magkasakit, masaktan o mabawian ng buhay dahil sa kasinungalingan ng iilan.

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