THE National Bureau of Investigation has filed charges of technical malversation against former President Benigno Aquino III, former Health Secretary Janette Garin, and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad for their alleged complicity in the irregular purchase of Dengvaxia vaccine worth an estimated P3.5 billion.
This as NBI Director Dante Gierran submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman the results of the agency’s investigation where government agents recommended the filing of formal charges against Mr. Aquino and several others.
The case against the former leader was based on his approval to use the 2015 Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF) for the procurement of the controversial vaccine.
“Former President Aquino, by his authority, declared the use of savings from the 2015 Mutual Benefit Personnel Fund and use the same to ‘augment’ a non-existent anti-dengue immunization program of the Department of Health,” the NBI said in its recommendation.
Another criminal case was also filed against Garin and 36 others before the Department of Justice (DoJ) over the deaths of school children inoculated with Dengvaxia vaccine.
A complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under the Revised Penal Code and violations of Anti-Torture Act and Consumer Act was filed against the former health officials and executives of manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp. by the family of Michael Tablate, 11-year-old student from Subic in Zambales who died in October last year after being inoculated with the anti-dengue vaccine.
The complaint was filed by Tablate’s mother, Rowena Villegas, through the assistance of the Public Attorney’s Office, which was tasked by the Department of Justice (DoJ) to conduct fact-finding investigation and case buildup on the Dengvaxia controversy.
It was the 11th criminal complaint filed against Garin and other respondents before the DoJ so far as the PAO has already documented 67 cases of deaths from the vaccine.
Just like in the previous cases, the latest complaint accused Garin and others of negligence through “arbitrarily, maliciously, and deliberately failure to inform the Dengvaxia recipients and their parents/families of the dangers and risks related to Dengvaxia and to obtain their informed consent.”
It also cited the failure of the DoH under Garin to conduct proper screening of Dengvaxia recipients and to implement active and aggressive monitoring and surveillance over the recipients considering the risks posed by the vaccine to seronegative recipients or those who had no history of dengue.
In the complaint, the respondents have been accused of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code; torture resulting to the death of any person and torture committed against children under Republic Act 9745 (the Act Penalizing Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment); and for having defective and mislabeled product under RA 7394 (Consumer Act of the Philippines).