Aquino, Garin not yet off the hook on Dengvaxia mess — solon
Updated (9:42 p.m.)
The chairperson of the House of Representatives committee on health on Thursday belied reports that they have cleared former President Benigno Aquino III from any culpability in the botched dengue vaccination program.
In a statement, Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina Tan dismissed a newspaper report saying that a draft report of the House committees on health, and good government and public accountability, formerly chaired by Surigao del Sur 2nd District Rep. Johnny Pimentel, absolved Aquino from the P3 billion Dengvaxia mess.
“I would like to belie in particular the report that the Committee on Good Government and
Public Accountability, chaired by Rep. Johnny Pimentel, and the Committee on Health, which l chair, have respectively come up with their report that cleared the former chief executive on the dengue vaccination program,” she said.
Tan also pointed out that her committee did not concur with the findings and recommendations of Pimentel’s committee.
“It is not true that we in the Committee on Health have concurred with the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability as we have never been part of the drafting process nor have been consulted on the matter,” she said.
While it was true that the health panel previously submitted its own draft report, Tan said
the same has “merely touched upon the issue of health and efficacy based on its own independent investigation.”
She said their committee has conducted three public hearings on the safety and efficacy of Dengvaxia, which culminated with its submission of the draft committee report for consideration by the Pimentel’s panel.
The good government panel had taken over the investigation after the previous leadership of the House had abruptly ordered to terminate the probe, she added.
But Pimentel, in a text message to reporters, clarified that they “did not clear anyone” including Aquino.
“Our recommendation is for the judicial or quasi judicial body to file the necessary and appropriate cases (against) those involved,” he said.
Aquino, Garin liable
Tan also pointed out that she was ready to question the draft findings, which she branded as “biased for” Aquino and his former Health Chief Janette Garin.
“The truth is, I was ready to question the draft findings and recommendations, which to my mind were biased in favor of Aquino and Garin. The joint panels have scheduled the consideration of the draft report on the following day, which however did not push through inasmuch as Rep. Pimentel had been replaced as chairman of the committee,” she explained.
Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo had replaced Pimentel as the panel’s chair.
Following the various inquiries they conducted, Tan said the former chief executive and his former Health chief “may be held liable together with the other high-ranking officials of the DOH (Department of Health).”
“It cannot be denied that it was Aquino, as the highest official of the land at that time, who
caused the purchase of Dengvaxia despite the fact that it was still undergoing clinical trials. Sanofi Pasteur, Dengvaxia’s manufacturer, has, later on, admitted the vaccine may pose risks when administered to individuals not previously infected with dengue,” Tan said.
Dengvaxia, a relatively new drug manufactured by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, was used in the mass anti-dengue vaccination program during the tail end of the Aquino administration in April 2016.
However, in November 2017, Sanofi released results of its long-term follow-up study which showed that Dengvaxia could cause an increased risk to those who are seronegative or not yet infected with dengue.
Over 830,000 Filipino school children were vaccinated with the Dengvaxia.
Aquino, Garin, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, as well as other officials of the Aquino and Duterte administrations are already facing charges related to the vaccination controversy. /vvp