NBI files case vs former President Aquino, others over Dengvaxia issue
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday filed criminal complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against former President Benigno Aquino, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, former Health Secretary Janette Garin and several others for the illegal purchase of the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine.
Also recommended for prosecution are Family Health Office officer-in-charge Joyce Ducusin; Philippine Children’s Medical Center Director Julius Lecciones; Family Health Office Medical Specialist II Dr. Maria Wilda Silva; DOH- Disease Prevention and Control Bureau Director IV Mario Baquilod; and Dr. Rosalind Vianzon.
In a letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dated July 13, 2018, the NBI said: “There is technical malversation because government funds amounting to P3 billion intended for the 2015 Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF) of the Executive Department was utilized for the procurement of Dengvaxia under the DOH school-based immunization program. Although the source of fund was declared as savings by the Chief Executive, its intended purpose failed as there is no existing rpograms, activity or project for dengue procurement and immunization.”
The NBI asked the Ombudsman to conduct a preliminary investigation on the matter and eventually file a case in court.
The NBI also recommended that former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial be investigated for technical malversation for pursuing the degue vaccine project despite knowing that it was never part of the 2015 or 2016 General Appropriations Act.
The NBI also asked the Ombudsman to hold Garin and other officials at the Food and Drug Authority (FDA), Center For Drug Research and Regulation (CDRR)-FDA and Formulary Executive Council for violation of the Anti-Graft Law.
The vaccine was purchased for P3.5 billion and was used for the vaccination of 830,000 children.
“Parents of vaccinated children, regardless of status, was shaken by the latest discovery of Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. (SPI) that the Dengvaxia should not be introduced to seronegative individuals,” NBI Director Dante Gierran said.
Gierran said that the purchase was made without certificates of product registration (CPR) given to Dengvaxia which only received a certificate of exemption.
He added there were irregularities in the issuance of the exemption and that “the issuance of Certificate of Exemption was reduced into a mere procedural technicality that should be complied in order for the responsible officials to procure Dengvaxia.”
As of posting time, Aquino and Garin have not replied to a request for a reaction by INQUIRER.net.
On the other hand, Abad said he would prefer to read the complaint first before making a comment. /atm