Ex-Health chief Garin: Attempted assault by mothers of Dengvaxia-vaccinated children an 'act'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 5) — Former Health Secretary Janette Garin on Monday said the attempted attack by mothers of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia was just for show.

"Obvious ba? Nakita niyo naman siguro kung ano nangyari," she said of the incident.

[Translation: Isn't it obvious? I believe you saw what happened.]

The four mothers lunged at Garin after a hearing on the controversial dengue vaccine at the House of Representatives.

Garin was inside an elevator when the women attempted to grab her, screaming and accusing her of killing their children.

The former Health Secretary's lawyer shielded Garin from the raging women, who eventually admitted that none of their children had actually died.

They said, however, that some of their children have not been feeling well since their vaccination.

"Naintindihan ko kung sakali na 'yung nanghampas sa akin, nanuntok sa akin ay kung talagang nanay siya ng bata, naintinidhan ko 'yun," Garin said.

[Translation: I would've understood if those who attempted to hit and punch me were actual mothers of those who died.]

She added people should stop spreading lies to sow panic.

"At the end of the day, the ultimate victims of misinformation, the ultimate victims of people calling for panic and making this whole issue exaggerated, ang biktima dito pagdating ng panahon, Pilipino pa rin at taong bayan (the victims here are still the Filipinos)," Garin said.

The mothers' fears stem from the announcement of  French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur in November that Dengvaxia could cause "severe disease" on those who had not been infected by dengue before they were immunized.

READ: DOJ to consolidate PAO, experts' Dengvaxia findings – DOH

The Public Attorney's Office had found "strong links" between the deaths of immunized children  to Dengavaxia, but admitted the results were inconclusive. The Philippine General Hospital's Dengue Investigative Task Force, meanwhile, reported there are no direct links to the vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration has since suspended the sale and distribution of the dengue vaccine, while the Department of Health suspended its national immunization program.

Health officials said about 800,000 students received the vaccine since the start of the P3.5 billion program that began in April 2016.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives are conducting separate probes on the issue, which have now involved former President Noynoy Aquino, and other former health officials.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.