Aquino faces Senate ‘Dengvaxia’ probe
Former President Benigno S. Aquino III appeared before the Senate investigation on the government’s anti-dengue immunization program, which commenced during his term.
Aquino was present at the Senate hearing on Thursday along with former Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa Jr., and former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad.
During Monday’s joint hearing of the Senate blue ribbon, health, and finance committees on the issue, Senator Richard Gordon hinted that Aquino had a hand in the failure of the program, which uses Dengvaxia, an anti-dengue vaccine manufactured by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.
Gordon is the chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee.
Earlier, Gordon said he invited Aquino to shed light on his alleged 2015 meetings with officials of Sanofi Pasteur.
According to Gordon, he sees “strong signs of a conspiracy to buy” the vaccine, starting from the negotiations up to its purchase through the immediate release of P3.5 billion fund for the vaccination program.
Also during the last hearing, former Health Secretary Janette Garin denied any corruption, negligence, and midnight deal involved in the program.
Sanofi also denied any negligence on the part of their company.
Last week, the Department of Health (DOH) stopped the administration of Dengvaxia vaccine and ordered the close observation of those who had received it. This developed after Sanofi earlier issued an advisory, which said that its vaccine “could lead to more severe symptoms for people who had not previously been infected” by dengue virus.
Present Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the vaccine was administered to more than 830,000 children in schools, communities, and private hospitals.
Around 12,000 uniformed personnel, including their families and children, were also vaccinated, Duque said. /kga
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