Drilon disagrees with Gordon, files dissent on Dengvaxia report
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon opposed on Thursday the blue ribbon committee’s draft report, as he defended former President Benigno Aquino III, who was recommended for prosecution for the Dengvaxia mess.
Drilon said he does not concur with the draft report, which recommended the filing of charges against the former President, former Health Secretary Janette Garin, and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad among others, over the purchase and administration of the P3 billion Dengvaxia vaccine.
“Upon careful review of the draft report, I would like to inform you that I disagree with its findings, conclusions and recommendations,” Drilon said in a letter to Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the committee, on Thursday.
“Thus, in accordance with Rule XI, Section 24 of the Rules of the Senate, I am formally entering my objection thereto and submitting herewith my dissenting vote,” he added.
In his 30-page dissenting vote, Drilon said: “We found no conclusive scientific evidence to support the conclusion that any of the reported deaths were in any way connected to Dengvaxia,” as he pressed for the matter to be studied by “qualified pathologists.”
Drilon, an ex-officio member of the panel, found no basis for the committee’s recommendation to file charges against the former President and his officials for violation of the Revised Penal Code, R.A. No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Civil Code and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Declaring certain personalities guilty at this point would not only be premature but would also reinforce impressions of the politicization of a legitimate public health concern that must be addressed in a clinical manner,” he said.
Drilon however said, “If and when it is indubitably established that Dengvaxia is the proximate cause of the deaths in question, all those involved should be made to account – without exception.”
Dengvaxia was administrated to 280,000 children during Aquino’s term, and to 400,000 during President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
The draft report cited Garcia v. People, wherein the Supreme Court held that a person committing a felony is responsible for all the natural and logical consequences resulting from it, though the unlawful act performed is different from the one intended.
Drilon said the doctrine in Garcia v. People and Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code could not apply to Aquino’s act of approving the procurement of Dengvaxia.
He explained that in order for a person to be liable for a felony under this provision, two elements should be present: 1) an intentional felony was committed, and 2) the wrong done to the aggrieved party be the direct, natural and logical consequence of the felony committed by the offender.
“The first element – that an intentional felony was committed is conspicuously absent. It is clear that President Aquino did not act with malice or dolo in procuring the vaccine,” Drilon stressed.
Drilon pointed out that good faith is evident in the process by which the former President arrived at his decision to procure the vaccine.
He said it is evident when Aquino considered factors such as the prevalence of dengue in certain regions of the country, the spike in reported cases in areas outside of Metro Manila, the costs of getting sick, the estimated costs for the entire country which could total in P58.2 billion, the absence of a cure for dengue, and the fact that countries like Mexico and Brazil have already approved the vaccine.
The Senate leader also quoted Dr. Halstead’s testimony at the Senate, who said that the diagnosis on whether Dengvaxia caused death cannot be based on mere autopsy.
Considering that there is no conclusive proof to establish that Dengvaxia was the proximate cause of the deaths of the children whose bodies were autopsied by the Public Attorney’s Office, Drilon said it was evident that the second element of Article 4 of the Revised Penal Code is not met.
The minority leader also said Aquino did not commit technical malversation when he authorized the purchase of Dengvaxia, as it is well within his Constitutional authority to use the savings to fund the Dengvaxia procurement.
He also explained that there was no undue haste in the procurement of the vaccine as the approval was well within the timelines provided in the law and relevant regulations. /je
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