DOH chief wants end to finger-pointing over Dengvaxia mess

MANILA Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday said it is time to stop finger-pointing over the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy, noting that the prolonged congressional probe has implications to the overall vaccination program of the government.

Duque made the appeal during the House committee on good government and public accountability hearing into the controversial PHP3.5-billion anti-dengue vaccination carried out by the Aquino administration.

"We have to be mindful of the implications of a very prolonged investigation on this... Let's not add to the confusion and the divide. No issue has divided the public as much as Dengvaxia," Duque said.

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, who filed a House resolution to relaunch the Dengvaxia probe, echoed Duque's sentiments, saying that it is better to let the courts hear the case considering that criminal complaints had already been lodged against former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and several of his former officials.

"We are here to pinpoint responsibility and accountability of public officials. But based on the statements being issued by the officials involved, it is clear that this is going nowhere. Magtatalo lang tayo (We will just argue)," Atienza said.

"Bigyan na lang natin sila ng pagkakataon na magpaliwanag sa korte (Let's give them a chance to get heard in court). Rather than spend time in this hearing, let us listen to them answer the charges in court," Atienza added.

Atienza said there was "clear conspiracy" during the Aquino administration in the procurement of the Dengvaxia vaccines made by French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur.

"Dahil kung as far back as ?2010-2012 ay alam na nilang lumalaki pala ang problema sa dengue, bakit hindi nila nilagyan ng sapat na pondo ang DOH para dito? Paano nila nalaman na Dengvaxia pala ang solusyon at Sanofi ang dapat kausapin tungkol dito? (If dengue started to worsen as far back as ?2010-2012, why did they not put enough funds for this? How did they know that Dengvaxia would be the solution and Sanofi the firm to talk to?)," Atienza said.

"They did not really act according to what is best for Filipinos. Mabuti pa, sa korte na sila sumagot at hindi dito. Kapag sila ay napatunayang ignorante o umabuso sa kapangyarihan, makukulong sila. At kung may korapsyon na nangyari, mabubulok sila sa kulungan (It would be better if they answer in court. Once proven that they abused their power, they would get jailed and if indeed corruption happened, they would rot in jail)," he added.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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