DOJ Panel Probes Raps Against Noynoy Aquino, Abad & Garin Over Dengvaxia Mess

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The administration of Pres. Rody Duterte through the Department of Justice (DOJ) has created a four-man panel to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of criminal complaint filed by Vanguard of the Philippines, Inc. (VCPI) and VACC against former Pres. Noynoy Aquino, former Budget Secretary Butch Abad and DOH Secretary Janette Garin in connection with controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

The DOJ released an Office Order No. 0439 dated February 23 but was released to the media a few days later, Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. designated Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rossane Balauag as head of the DOJ panel with Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Hazel Decena Valdez and Asst. State Prosecutors Consuelo Corazon Pazziuagan and Gino Paolo Santiago as members.

The country’s most popular anti-crime group, VACC, was represented by lawyer Manuelito Luna, and VCPI through its president, suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari and lawyer Nasser Marohomsalic filed a complaint of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 which prohibits a public officer from giving a private party unwarranted benefits in the discharge of his administrative or judicial functions; Section 65(3) of Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act; and Article 220 (technical malversation) of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); and Article 365 (criminal negligence) of the RPC against Aquino.

Aside from the personalities mentioned above, one of those who testified in the Senate Inquiry on Dengvaxia, Dr. Francisco Cruz, joined VACC and VPCI as a co-complainant. 

Aside from Aquino, Abad and Garin, other respondents in the controversial Dengvaxia mess also includes undersecretaries Dr. Carol Tanio, Gerardo Bayugo, Lilibeth David and Mario Villaverde; Assistant Secretaries Lyndon Lee Suy and Nestor Santiago; DOH Financial Management Service director Laureano Cruz; DOH directors Dr. Joyce Ducusin, Dr. May Wynn Belo, Dr. Leonila Gorgolon, Dr. Rio Magpantay, Dr. Ariel Valencia and Dr. Julius Lecciones; retired DOH Undersecretaries Dr. Nemesio Gako, Dr. Vicente Belizario, Jr., Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go; and Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, who served as Garin’s head executive assistant.

There are other personalities who were identified by the DOJ such as officials and employees of pharmaceutical company Zuellig, which supplied the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine, and Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of the vaccine which was inititated during the administration of former Pres. Noynoy Aquino.

Based upon the claimed of VPCI and VACC the procurement of the Dengvaxia was “irrefutably” fast tracked and may have transgressed pertinent provision of the government procurement law. A total of 830,000 children and 30,000 more, including members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) received doses of the Dengvaxia vaccine.

Before the conduct of the preliiminary investigation, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said it would be the burden of the private complainants to prove the criminal liabilities of the respondents of the respondents during hearings. Sec. said that it is up to the complainants to prove their allegations to prove and it is their duty to support their cases and not depend on another’s submission.

Sec. Aguirre said the complaint filed by VACC and VPCI is independent of other possible complaints to be filed by other parties on the same controversy. Aguirre earlier tapped the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to provide legal assistance to families of children who developed severe dengue that led to either death or serious illnesses after getting the vaccine.

Source: PNA

Ed Umbao

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