By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Richard Gordon on Sunday rejected calls for Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta to resign, saying the latter should not be blamed for the public’s loss of confidence on the government’s vaccination programs.
“I am not in favor of resignation because at least, she was very enthusiastic in helping the poor. That’s okay with me. Let’s give her the credit,” Gordon said in an interview over Radio DZBB.
“She was really persistent, and I give her credit for that. If she didn’t do what she did, these DOH (Department of Health) officials would not be afraid to do that,” the senator added.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros had earlier accused Acosta of causing public hysteria on the government’s botched anti-dengue vaccination program and eventually eroding the public’s trust on state’s vaccination programs that have now led to a spike on measles cases.
But Gordon said Acosta did not cause hysteria when she appeared in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing’s investigation into the controversial deaths attributed to the Dengvaxia medicines.
“She faced us during the hearing; she did not cause any hysteria then,” he pointed out.
“As I said, this is an investigation into the procurement. If there was really evidence, I will allow her to testify. If none, then I won’t,” he said.
Nonetheless, Gordon said he believed the Dengvaxia issue should not be “politicized” and that the congressional probes were “legitimate investigation involving corruption.”
“Truth is, some people want to declare a national emergency and I pointed out that if we do that, it will affect our tourism. I warned them of the repercussions, and I remained firm there’s no need for that,” he said.
He also said politicians might also use the calamity funds for campaign purposes should the government declare a national emergency due to the measles outbreak.
“That’s why we need to be vigilant…But we are confident (Health) Secretary (Francisco) Duque can do a good job and find a remedy for that,” Gordon said.