QC court okays trial of 2 Dengvaxia cases
MANILA, Philippines — After being directed by the Supreme Court to hear all criminal cases arising from the deaths of children inoculated with the Dengvaxia vaccine in 2016, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court found probable cause to proceed with the trial of two of several cases.
In omnibus orders on the two cases coming from the Metropolitaan Trial Courts of Muntinlupa City and Imus City in Cavite, Presiding Judge Jose Bautista Jr. of Branch 107 set the arraignment of former Health Secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin and other respondents at 2 p.m. of November 27.
The cases involved charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, which is punishable by imprisonment ranging from two to six years.
Aside from Garin, other respondents included Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Philippine Children’s Medical Center Executive Director Julius Lecciones, former and active officials of the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine as well as the executives of the drug company Sanofi Pasteur.
However, prosecutors cleared Duque of responsibility for the vaccination program, which was conceived and initiated during the time of Garin.
One of the two cases was filed by spouses Lauro and Analyn Eboña, parents of deceased student Marc Axl D. Eboña, one of hundreds of minors who died after being inoculated with Dengvaxia in 2016.
The other was filed in Imus, Cavite by security guard Ian Colite, whose son, Zandro Colite, also died after being vaccinated with Dengvaxia.
After reviewing case records he received from other courts, Bautista recognized that bail had previously been posted by respondents in the case from Imus, but added that he did not have some records of bail for the case from Muntinlupa.
“To unburden the accused of filing another bail bond, the court considers all the cash bonds posted by them before the said courts are deemed filed before this court and approves at the same time,” Bautista wrote in the order.
However, he said the records in his possession suggest that Garin and Sanofi officials Stanislas Camart, Jean Louis Grunwald and Jean Francois Vacherand have not posted bail.
But if the accused had already posted bail in the previous court, Bautista said that the respondents should furnish the Quezon City court a copy of the cash bond approval “so that [this] court can likewise approve the same without them filing a new bail bond.”
But Garin maintained that she had posted bail in all the cases filed against her and that her lawyers will clarify the matter with the court on Monday.
She also deplored claims that the court had ordered her arrest when it was clear in Bautista’s order that he would only issue a warrant if she fails to provide appropriate documents.
Garin maintained that the Dengvaxia program was initially given a permit for local trial by Duque during his first stint as health secretary in 2005 and continued for several years until global tests ended in in 2015. After which, implementation started.
She said at least five batches of cases have already been filed against her.
The first involved eight cases in Caloocan, Muntinlupa, Quezon City, Imus in Cavite, Balanga in Bataan and San Pedro in Laguna. Of that batch, six were dismissed and only the ones in Imus and Muntinlupa remained and were transferred to the QCRTC.
The second batch also involved eight cases in the provinces of Bataan, Zambales, Quezon, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Pasay City and Quezon City in Metro Manila but only the ones in Pampanga and Metro Manila remain.
Garin said the third, fourth and fifth batches were filed with prosecutors across the country but remain pending.
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