Garin: Mothers of Dengvaxia-vaccinated children who attacked me have apologized

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 27) — Former Health Secretary Janette Garin said the mothers of vaccinated children who recently attacked her have apologized for the incident.

"The group came to me together with their leader to apologize. They arranged a meeting at Sofitel," Garin told CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday.

"Ang sabi nila, ang gusto lang talaga nila is marinig kung... ano ang epekto ng bakuna sa anak nila [They said they just wanted to know... the effect of the vaccine on their children]," she added.

Their meeting supposedly took place about a day after the four women lunged at Garin after the House probe on the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine on February 6.

The mothers at first claimed their children died of Dengvaxia, but later admitted none of their children had actually died, but were sick.

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

Garin maintained the mothers were manipulated into attacking her.

"When I started asking them, I was getting confused with the information kung ano ba talaga ang nag-udyok sa kanila [as to what really prompted them]," said Garin. "When I saw the videos in Congress, it was a well-planned attack, seemingly to discourage me."

During her term as health secretary, Garin oversaw the implementation of the P3.5 billion school-based dengue immunization program.

Dengvaxia was administered to 800,000 students before it was revealed to possibly cause "severe disease" on those who had not been infected by dengue before.

Both houses of Congress are conducting probes on the issue. The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) claimed there were "strong links" between Dengvaxia and the death of 14 children, but admitted their findings were inconclusive.

Figures from the medical community slammed the PAO for causing panic by releasing information that could not be backed by science.

The office was also slammed as to whether it was qualified to carry out forensic investigations, when their team did not have a pathologist present during the autopsies.

Related: Ex-President Aquino: Politics aggravating Dengvaxia mess

"Nakakalungkot na humantong sa ganoon [It's sad that it has reached this point]," said Garin. "Instead of discussing science and letting people speak up the truth, nagkakanya-kanyang takutan [everyone is scaring each other]."

When asked if she regretted pursuing the dengue vaccination program, Garin said she stands by it -- but she wants an investigation.

"I don't regret implementing it, however, mas gusto ko... ipagpatuloy ang imbestigasyon. At kung may makikitaang kailangang managot, we proceed with the usual course of justice," she said.

[Translation: I don't regret implementing it, however I'd rather... continue the investigation. If someone has to be accountable, we will proceed with the usual course of justice.]