Duque denies obstructing justice in Dengvaxia fiasco
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday took exception to the accusation of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) that he might be liable for obstruction of justice in the investigation of the Dengvaxia fiasco.
In a statement, Duque said it was not true that he was not cooperating with the investigation that aimed to give justice to children who died after receiving the dengue vaccine.
“I deny any accusation that I am obstructing justice. I am not protecting anyone, most especially those allegedly involved in the controversial implementation of the dengue immunization,” he said.
The secretary did not name the VACC, but he vowed to be transparent in the submission of documents to the Department of Justice, the Senate and the House of Representatives in their respective inquiries.
‘I am after the truth’
“I am also after the truth and … for the correction of the deficiencies observed in the rollout of the program,” he said.
Earlier, Manuelito Luna, a lawyer for the VACC, accused Duque of refusing to provide them documents on the purchase of the vaccine by the Department of Health (DOH) for its nationwide immunization drive.
For this, Luna said, the chief of the DOH might be held liable for obstruction of justice.
Duque assured that the DOH was looking after the needs of more than 830,000 children inoculated with Dengvaxia.
“Should there be any DOH official who will be proven to have transgressed any law or deviate from standard operating procedures in relation to the purchase and implementation of the dengue vaccine, I will make sure that they will face justice,” Duque said.
The DOH terminated its dengue vaccination program last year after Dengvaxia’s French manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, admitted that the vaccine might increase the risk of severe dengue in seronegative children, or those who had no dengue infection prior to vaccination.
The vaccination program was started in March 2016 during the term of Health Secretary Janette Garin.
The DOH has since recorded 29 deaths of children who received Dengvaxia.
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