Aquino execs liable for ‘hasty’ P3.5-B Dengvaxia deal — VACC
Aquino administration officials should be charged with graft over the “hasty” P3.5-billion purchase of Dengvaxia, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) said Thursday.
Speaking at the resumption of the Senate hearing on the Dengvaxia controversy, VACC lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said officials of the former administration should be held liable for fast-tracking the purchase which would not have been possible without the green light of then-President Benigno Aquino III.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, however, quickly bucked the proposal, saying it was inappropriate.
The hearing was done jointly by the Blue Ribbon, health and finance committees, which is looking into circumstances surrounding Dengvaxia, an anti-dengue vaccine manufactured by French drug company Sanofi Pasteur.
“We respectfully recommend, I mean respectfully suggest, that this body recommend the filing of charges for violation of R.A. 3019,” said Topacio, referring to the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
He also questioned the Formulary Executive Committee (FEC)’s exemption of the Dengvaxia from the Philippine National Dug Formulary, adding that the purchase of the vaccine was done in “undue and indecent haste.”
An Aquino ally, Drilon interrupted Topacio, saying the lawyer should not smear the reputation of anyone in the hearing and just air his grievances in the proper quorum, like the Ombudsman.
“We have resource persons, this is an investigation in aid of legislation. With all due respect to attorney Topacio, he comes around with all kinds of charges, I have not heard him say anything about the issue of Sanofi having committed any indiscretion, etcera,” Drilon said.
“He is not a resource person. And we have a rule here in the Senate that we allow resource persons to speak, not counsel,” he added.
The senator said Topacio should “take extra care besmirching the reputation of people” and not blanketly accuse resource persons because it was “not proper.”
Topacio clarified that he was not charging anyone, and simply reading the VACC’s “respectful suggestions” to the committee. /cbb