SC asked to consolidate hearing of Dengvaxia cases
MANILA, Philippines — The parents of children who died reportedly due to Dengvaxia vaccination have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to consolidate the hearing of cases in a single Regional Trial Court (RTC).
In a petition submitted on Thursday, parents living in various locations inside and outside of Metro Manila requested that all the Dengvaxia-related cases be transferred to the Family Court of Quezon City.
“Wherefore, premises considered, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that: (b) the venue […] be transferred to and consolidated before the Family Court of Quezon City,” the parents said in their petition prepared by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
The petitioners cited Section 5(4) of Article VIII (Judicial Department) of the 1987 Constitution, which allows SC to “order a change of venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice,” and the Rule 119, Section 22 of the Rules of Court, which says that charges for “offenses found on the same facts” may be tried jointly.
Currently, there are seven cases filed against former Health Secretary Janette Garin, incumbent Secretary Francisco Duque and other officials being heard in different courts. One of the cases is being heard in the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) Branch 40 in Quezon City, another in a Municipal Trial Court in Cities Branch 2 in San Pedro, Laguna.
There are also cases before the MeTC Branches 114 and 112 in Mandaluyong City, Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Balanga, Bataan, and one in MeTC Branch 83 in Caloocan City.
Aside from this, the petitioners also requested that the criminal cases be referred to the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City so they can raffle the case to a Family Court.
The previous administration implemented a national anti-dengue immunization program and procured the Dengvaxia vaccines from pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur.
However, the company recalled the vaccine in 2017, after studies revealed that Dengvaxia may worsen dengue in seronegative patients — or people who have yet to contract dengue before being vaccinated.
Since the recall, there were reported cases of death among children who received Dengvaxia shots due to severe dengue. PAO data showed that 129 Dengvaxia recipients died after the vaccine was administered.
Officials from the previous administration, including former President Benigno Aquino III, denied responsibility for the deaths, saying that the cases have been sensationalized to pin them and other officials. /ee
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