By Jefferson Antiporda/Manila Times
Anti-crime advocates filed a complaint before the Justice department yesterday against former president Benigno Aquino and past Cabinet and health officials involved in the Dengvaxia mass vaccination programme.
In a 16-page joint complaint-affidavit, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), whistleblowerFrancisco Cruz and Vanguard of the Phil Constitution Inc., sought the filing of charges against Aquino, former Budget secretary Florencio Abad and former Health secretary Janette Garin for the procurement of the anti-dengue vaccine and inoculation of almost a million individuals, mostly children.
“We will hold all of them accountable for the highly irregular and disadvantageous…if not downright unlawful, procurement of P3.5bn worth of Dengvaxia vaccines,” said Dante Jimenez, chairman of the VACC.
Also named respondents were Health undersecretaries Carol Tanio, Gerardo Bayugo, Lilibeth David and Mario Villaverde; assistant secretaries Lyndon Lee Suy and Nestor Santiago; and directors Laureano Cruz, Joyce Ducusin, Mar Wynn Bello, Leonila Gorgolon, Rio Magpantay, Ariel Valencia and Julius Lecciones.
Also named in the complaint were former health officials Nemesio Gako, Vicente Belizario Jr, Kenneth Hartigan-Go and Yolanda Oliveros as well as directors and officers or employees of pharmaceutical distributor Zuellig and Sanofi Pasteur, the maker of Dengvaxia.
According to the complaint, the respondents should be held directly and proximately responsible for the Dengvaxia mess, not only for the ensuing deaths but also for the undue injury caused any private party and the government.
Aquino and other respondents should be held liable for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9184 or the Government Procurement Act and RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for malversation of public funds, the complainant said.
The complainants noted that Aquino met Sanofi officials abroad, juggled funds and authorised the releases of a total of P3.5bn for the procurement of the Dengvaxia vaccine for the Dengue Immunisation Programme of the DoH launched during the 2016 election period. Other respondents were liable because of their involvement in the planning and implementation of the anti-dengue immunisation programme that has put the health of thousands of children at risk, the complaint said.
The respondents failed to comply with the World Health Organisation standards on the licensing and post-licensing monitoring of Dengvaxia and did not disclose adverse events associated with the mass vaccination, contrary to law and existing regulations, they also said.
“Since correlation between Dengvaxia and deaths had been established prima facie, respondents Aquino, Abad, Garin, and the other respondents should stand trial for criminal negligence,” the respondents stated in the joint-complaint.
The VACC was represented by lawyer Manuelito Luna, and Vanguard by its president, lawyer Eligio Mallari.
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