Former Health Secretary now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin has accuse ABS-CBN of irresponsible reporting and being a source of public health misinformation in the country.
During the hearing of the House of Representatives on the franchise of ABS-CBN Monday, Garin said the alleged irresponsible reporting of ABS-CBN on Dengvaxia is partly to blame for the public’s loss of confidence in vaccines and the return of polio in the country.
Garin has also hit the network for getting “fake experts,” such as Dr. Erwin Erfe of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) as sources.
“If you cannot perceive real experts in the country how can you have reponsible journalism?”
It was PAO which leads the investigation against Garin and the officials who allowed the use of the controversial dengue vaccine which allegedly caused deaths of school children.
Aside from reports on Dengvaxia, Garin also cited ABS-CBN’s erroneous report claiming that psoriasis is a mysterious flesh eating disease which infect people in Pangasinan.
“How can you convey the real public health information? How can you deny you have unconsciously became part of that virus that is creeping on our public health?”
“Now it pains me to hear you are [claiming] that you have been helping Filipino people, [claiming] that you have been helping our country. Tulong po ba yung ibinalik niyo yung lahat ng mga infectious diseases na natanggal na sa ating bansa?”
“Mas masahol pa sa COVID-19 ang public health misinformation,” she added.
Further in her interpellation, Garin said she would resign as a lawmaker if ABS-CBN can prove its claim in its report that she apologized for the Dengvaxia mess.
“If you can prove in that interview that I did apologize for the Dengvaxia program, I will immediately resign from Congress.”
However, hours after Garin made the statement, a TV Patrol report where she was heard apologizing to parents of Dengvaxia victims circulated in social media.
This has prompted Garin to speak again and in her manifestation, she said the audio recording was “spliced.”
“While it is true that I said that if you can prove that I really said that, that I was interviewed for the TV Patrol segment I will resign, I stand by my word hindi po ako nanloloko,” she said.
She maintained that the interview was never conducted.
“If you look at the news obvious na obvious kasi na inisplice. That interview in TV patrol was never conducted. Talaga pong haka-haka yan.”
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza criticized Garin for allegedly monopolizing the proceedings and using Congress to defend herself and the Dengvaxia program.
Atienza has advised Garin to explain herself before the court where she has pending cases over the death of school children who got vaccinated with Dengvaxia instead.
“You prepare yourself for your legal defense and not in this Congress… Your case has nothing to do with the ABS-CBN franchise application.”
“If you are proven guilty of reckless imprudence resulting in death of children … I hope you all rot in jail,” Atienza also told Garin.
Meanwhile, House Committee on Accounts Chairperson and Cavite Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino hit ABS-CBN over alleged biased reporting against him and his brother, Senator Francis Tolentino.
“Maaring personal o parochial po ang aking manifestation pero ito po ang magpapatunay na biased po ang ABS-CBN sapagkat naranasan ko pong personal in 2013 during my first term in Congress,” he said in a manifestation during the hearing.
“Ang masasabi ko lang po mahirap lumaban na ang kalaban mo ay taga ABS-CBN. One year before election binabanatan ka na,” said Tolentino.
Tolentino further claimed that the network has attacked his brother through its biased reportage during 2016 and 2019 elections when the latter was running for senator.
“Sa akin pong kapatid na tumatakbong senador, three years before election, three years, imagine kung paano po banatan araw-araw.”
“Ok lang po yung i-criticize. Ang problema po dun tayo pong mga biktima hindi tayo makaganti, ‘Di naman tayo makasagot, wala naman po tayong [air] time para sumagot.”
He said the alleged reports of ABS-CBN had affected their candidacy.
Although he did not mention a name, he said there is already a pending case against the reporter involved.
Earlier, former Metro Manila Development Authority Chair and now Senator Tolentino filed a libel case against ABS-CBN broadcaster Ted Failon over several libelous and defamatory statements aired through the network’s programs.
Senator Tolentino ran for senator in the 2016 elections but lost. He ran again in the 2019 mid-term polls and won.
Congressman Tolentino called for reforms and urged the network’s executives to attend to their shortcomings and provide air time to those being publicly accused.
He also urged the network to not use the press freedom card to their advantage.
Reponding to Tolentino, ABS-CBN Carlo Katigbak assured lawmakers that if given franchise, they will allow all politicians being accused to be given air time.
“As of now, I would like to make public commitment that any public official will be given air time on ABS-CBN to express their side on any issue that is being raised agaianst them.”
“That is the commitment by the owners, by the management and we are instructing our organization today to take note of this instruction,” Katigbak said.
Anakalusugan Rep. Michael Defensor and Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado commended Katigbak for his commitment.