Ejercito: Garin and Abad are ‘principal conspirators’ in Dengvaxia mess
Former Health Secretary Janette Garin and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad are the “principal conspirators in the anomalous procurement and questionable implementation” of the botched P3 billion Dengvaxia mass vaccination drive, Senator JV Ejercito said on Thursday.
In a statement, Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on health, said that while former President Benigno Aquino III is “guilty of negligence for not exercising due diligence,” it was Garin and Abad who should be primarily held liable for the Dengvaxia mess.
“I believe that while former President Benigno Aquino III is guilty of negligence for not exercising due diligence, it is his two Cabinet members who should be primarily held liable for the Dengvaxia mess that has endangered the lives of almost 1 million children,” he said.
“PNoy should have exercised more prudence and oversight instead of allowing Garin and Abad to proceed with the purchase of the controversial vaccine. That is a failure of leadership that should hound his conscience and legacy,” he added.
Ejercito said it was Garin who had recommended the purchase of the untested vaccine. The purchase, he added, was “pushed despite the fact that the clinical trials were not yet finished and ignored the warnings by some experts as to its dangers.”
He said Abad, on the other hand, “facilitated, recommended, and approved the release of the money without congressional approval in amazing record time, and during a holiday period at that.”
The senator also called on the government to help the public initiate a class suit against French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, manufacturer of Dengvaxia.
Ejercito said legal actions should also be taken by the Philippine government against Sanofi to compel them to provide an indemnity fund and financial assistance for the medical care of children who were vaccinated.
“We need to do more to provide assistance to the victims. That is why I filed the Dengvaxia Assistance Program Bill so we can monitor and address the needs of those victimized by this scandal. The hearings also revealed the need to provide for an FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) independent of, and autonomous from, the DOH (Department of Health). This is the purpose of Senate Bill No. 1631 which I filed,” he added.
On Wednesday, Senate blue ribbon committee chair Senator Richard Gordon presented the draft report of the committee on the Dengvaxia issue.
The report recommended the criminal prosecution of Aquino, Garin, Abad, and other former officials for violating among others, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The draft report also recommended the filing of case against Sanofi Pasteur for violating the provisions of the Civil Code on Quasi-delicts.
Gordon is set to submit the report to the committee members for signature before presenting it to the plenary for approval.
Aquino and Garin said they are ready to face any charges against them. /muf
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