Rep. Lito Atienza (left) clashed with Rep. Janette Garin (right) over the Dengvaxia controversy and vaccine scare.

Tension gripped Tuesday’s plenary session of the House of Representatives, one that resulted in a request that Buhay Party list Rep. Lito Atienza be removed from the session hall.

No lawmaker was scheduled to deliver a privilege speech but the majority acceded to Atienza’s request to speak to call out allegations made by Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin that Atienza is spreading fake news on vaccines.

During the party list solon’s interpellation of Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy on Monday, Atienza blamed controversies on the vaccination programs for Tetanus Toxoid and Dengvaxia for the falling rates of vaccination among Filipinos.

“The lady who stood up yesterday branded my information that I was carrying to the chamber as nothing but fake news. That is unfair,” Atienza said.

This prompted Garin, who was the former Health Secretary who implemented the Dengvaxia vaccination program, to call him out.

“If she proves I have infected this chamber with fake news I’m willing to be prosecuted and I’m willing to resign my position but if I’m able to prove in that debate that I’m inviting her to join me in. She has to answer for the Dengvaxia deaths and dengue deaths of our children. Otherwise, I will personally prosecute her,” Atienza said.

“Point of order Mr. Speaker today is not a Monday. May I know why the Hon. Atienza is standing up and again spreading misinformation that Tetanus Toxoid causes sterility? The rules said no matter can be discussed without a quorum, I therefore move we call the roll,” Garin said.

The session was suspended but that didn’t deter Atienza.           

“We can call the roll a million times I’ll still challenge her,” Atienza said.

“Mr. Speaker, May I request the Secretary General to bring the honorable colleague out of this floor we are not in session and he keeps on talking,” Garin answered.

When it was established that there was a quorum, Atienza was allowed to continue as he dispelled Garin’s arguments.

“If I’m proven guilty, I should resign my position here but if I can prove her guilty, she should resign from her post,” Atienza said.

Amin po ay constructive that we must now address the problem of loss of credibility and confidence.

In deference to relations and memories of camaraderie, I think a report was not enough and was not pinpointing responsibilities. If the lady felt alluded to again di ko rin problema yun, problema nila yun kasi sila nagpakana ng Dengvaxia,” he added.

Garin rebutted Atienza point by point as she claimed Atienza was confusing the issues.

Garin said she will quit if it is proven Dengvaxia was responsible for the deaths of dengue fatalities but she also challenged Atienza to call the health ministers of countries still using Dengvaxia to find out if the DOH under her watch erred. (Jasper Camilo)