Sotto questions PAO’s forensic expertise in Dengvaxia probe
“Is [the] Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) now a medical group?”
Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III asked this question to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who faced the Commission on Appointments during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
“The last time I heard, the PAO is under the DOJ (Department of Justice), not the DOH (Department of Health),” Sotto said.
“So if we want to build a solid case like you mentioned, we charge you, set your foot down if you’re going to be Secretary of Health, set your foot down and make the DOH the lead into these investigations, especially scientific investigations.”
”Because kung hindi maganda ang background nung investigation or even nung nagi-imbestiga , hindi mga scientific experts talaga, pagdating sa korte patay tayo. Dun tayo matotodas bigla…,” he added.
Before this, Sotto questioned PAO’s expertise in examining the bodies of alleged victims of anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvanxia, which was administered to individuals, including children, under a DOH program that was first implemented during the past administration.
“Sino ba nagi-imbestiga? Sino bang mga experts ang nagi-imbestiga dyan sa Dengvaxia… Do we have government-authorized forensic experts already? Kasi ang balita namin one of those investigating is the Public Attorney’s Office,” he said.
“I don’t know how come the PAO is investigating scientific, medical issues. I was told and I read in an article, there’s no such thing as forensic experts in the PAO…,” the legislator also noted.
Duque explained that there are two experts of panel investigating the issue — the technical experts and the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), which is set to release its report on Friday.
Duque also said that as far as he knows, the PAO is representing the alleged victims of Dengvaxia vaccine.
“I guess the PAO’s agenda is to build a solid case which they hope to file in behalf of the parents of the victims,” Duque said.
“They are also doing a forensic analysis of exhumed bodies…,” he added.
Duque said they had already sent letters to the PAO, requesting for its findings on the issue so they could submit it to the UP-PGH for cross-examination. /kga
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