DOJ to resolve Dengvaxia cases this month
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to resolve this month whether former health chief Janette Garin, incumbent Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and 36 others should be charged in court for the deaths of nine minors allegedly due to the antidengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
The DOJ panel of prosecutors chaired by Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Emilia Victorio concluded on Oct. 30 the preliminary investigation of the nine criminal complaints filed by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on behalf of the minors’ parents.
Victorio said they would try to resolve within the month the complaints against Garin, Duque, health officials and pharmaceutical executives accused by PAO of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide as well as torture.
The nine complaints in connection with the deaths of Aejay Bautista, Angelica Pestilos, Lenard Baldonado, Zandro Colite, Abbie Hedia, Jansyn Bataan, Mark Axel Ebonia, Rey Justin Almagno and Alexander Jaime were the first batch of Dengvaxia cases filed by PAO in April and May.
PAO has since filed 18 other Dengvaxia-related criminal complaints — the last one for the death of a police officer from Quezon City.
The victims were among the 830,000 schoolchildren and government employees who were inoculated under the Aquino administration’s P3.5-billion mass antidengue immunization program in 2016.
The Department of Health (DOH) suspended the dengue immunization program in December 2017 when Filipino doctors questioned the vaccine’s possible adverse effect after manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur admitted that Dengvaxia was risky for those not previously infected with the dengue virus.
DOH officials charged
The vaccination program was implemented on Garin’s watch. Duque was included as respondent in two of the complaints since the victims received their Dengvaxia shots during his term.
The DOH officials charged were Vicente Belizario Jr., Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Gerardo Bayugo, Lyndon Lee Suy, Irma Asuncion, Julius Lecciones, Joyce Ducusin, Rosalind Vianzon and Mario Baquilod; Ma. Lourdes Santiago and Melody Zamudio of the Food and Drug Administration; and Socorro Lupisan and Ma. Rosario Capeding of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
The executives of Sanofi who were implicated were Carlito Realuyo, Stanislas Camart, Jean Louis Grunwald, Jean-Francois Vacherand, Conchita Santos, Jazel Anne Calvo, Pearl Grace Cabali and Marie Esther De Antoni.
Officers from distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp. who were charged were Kasigod Jamias, Michael Becker, Ricardo Romulo, Imran Babar Chugtai, Raymund Azurin, Nilo Badiola, John Stokes Davison, Marc Franck, Ashley Gerard Antonio, Ana Liza Peralta, Rosa Maria Chua, Danilo Cahoy, Manuel Concio III, Roland Goco and Ma. Visitacion Barreiro.
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