FOR people who have a lot of things to explain about involvement in corruption or inefficiency in their past official positions, a very enticing option is to run for a national office and get elected.
Once in Congress and sporting the honorific title of “Representative,” anyone can proceed to vilify persons, groups or institutions perceived to be his/her past or present enemies and critics. The goal is to even out the score.
This seems to characterize in large measure the situation of Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin in the House of Representatives lately. A former secretary of health, Garin has been perceived by many as using the House as a bully pulpit to attack the Department of Health and the two Duterte administration DOH secretaries who succeeded her.
At first glance, it would almost seem that Garin’s diatribes against alleged corruption and incompetence in the DOH were justified. After all it is the role of Congress, and especially the minority bloc, to fiscalize.
But Rep. Garin is not just any other member of Congress. She was the second and last DOH secretary to serve under former President Noynoy Aquino. It was under Garin’s watch that the biggest scandal of the Aquino administration unfolded: the Dengvaxia fiasco.
Garin fast-tracked the mass inoculation of over 800,000 schoolchildren with a relatively untested dengue vaccination, in complete disregard of Philippine procurement and licensing laws. When Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur later revealed that the vaccine could be harmful to those who have not yet had dengue, there followed mass hysteria and a series of investigations on Garin and her friends.
Garin accused Health Secretary Francisco Duque of playing politics in banning her pet drug.
Also, she raised corruption allegations against Calabarzon regional health director Eduardo Janiero, who happens to be the head of Duque’s Dengvaxia Task Force. She also questioned the allegedly haphazard procurement of the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine under former DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial, drawing a direct comparison to show her similarly swift approval of Dengvaxia in a better light.
It should be clear by now that Rep. Janette Garin’s assault against the DOH and its officials is not meant to fiscalize and improve the operations of the Department of Health. If anything, they are nothing more than an attempt to salvage her now tarnished reputation as former health secretary.
Another case of using election to public office to exculpate one’s previous failings?