Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima maintained that Public Attorneys Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta should be held accountable for her reckless public statements against the government’s vaccination policy, which could endanger people’s lives.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, reminded Acosta that she is a public official whose statements can greatly influence people’s choices, particularly on taking COVID-19 shots.
“I stand to defend anyone and everyone’s right to freedom of expression. But when a public officer uses her exposure as such to undermine the vaccination policy of the government, there should be consequences, or at least some form of public rebuke for recklessly endangering people’s lives with vaccination fear-mongering,” she said.
“There should be harsh consequences for spreading misinformation, and being a lackey of Duterte should not exempt anyone,” she added.
In a recent interview on ANC’s “Headstart,” Acosta admitted that she is not vaccinated, citing her age and health issues for such decision.
She even recklessly shared a story that the vaccinated people in their Central office were supposedly infected with the virus unlike the unvaccinated, saying, “so you can see who is prone to virus and who is really carrying the virus.”
Acosta said she is still waiting for protein-based vaccine to ensure her safety, saying that “I cannot face a vaccine now which will make you sick,” and further claiming that she has a friend who supposedly died due to COVID-19 despite being inoculated.
Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon also called out Acosta, saying her refusal to get immunized against COVID-19 contributes to vaccine hesitancy, considering that she is a government official.
Drilon said: “If she cannot defend the policies of this administration, she should leave her post. I’m not even asking for that. I am just saying, protect your fellow workers in the PAO.”
Backing Drilon, De Lima maintained that Acosta should relinquish her current position if she plans to release reckless statements undermining the government’s vaccination drive.
“While the government is being harsh on the ordinary unvaxxed commuters, it is letting a public official continue to undermine its vaccination drive. The double standard cannot be more glaring,” she said.
“If she wants to continue to speak freely and go on with her anti-vaccine rants, she should first resign her public office. Then she can preach her anti-vaccine beliefs as much as she wants as a private citizen,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol maintained that Acosta was largely responsible for the vaccine hysteria in the country after conducting her Dengvaxia witchhunt.
“The Filipino’s distrust with vaccines started with her, as tolerated by the Duterte government during its Dengvaxia witchhunt,” said De Lima.
It may be recalled that Acosta became a household name pre-pandemic after she repeatedly claimed that children who had received the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine supposedly died because of their jabs even though there is no scientific proof backing her claim.
The Dengvaxia controversy eventually created a national health scare that saw immunization rates for various diseases plummeting in the country. (30)