DOJ begins probe on criminal raps vs. Duque, Garin over Dengvaxia mess

MANILA The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday began its preliminary investigation on the criminal complaints filed by some parents assisted by Public Attorney's Office (PAO) against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, former health secretary Janette Garin and 36 others in connection with the death of several teens who had received the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine.

Assisted by the PAO, the complaints were filed by the families of the victims, namely, Aejay Bautista, Anjielica Pestillos, Lenard Baldonado, Zandro Colite, Abbie Hedia, Jansyn Art Bataa, Mark Axel Ebonia, Rey Justin Almagno, and Alexander Jaime.

The panel of prosecutors headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Maria Emilia Victorio conducted a separate preliminary investigation into the death of nine children who received Dengvaxia.

Victorio gave the respondents in these complaints until June 25 to file their respective counter-affidavits.

In the complaints, the families accused the respondents of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); for torture resulting in the death of a person and the torture of a child under Republic Act (RA) No. 9745, also known as the Act Penalizing Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment; obstruction of justice under Section 1(b) of Presidential Decree No. 1829; and violation of Section 3 of RA 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Duque, together with Dr. Maria Lourdes Santiago and Melody Zamudio as respondents, is facing two criminal complaints. The health chief was also charged with obstruction of justice in a previous complaint.

Aside from Duque and Garin also named as respondents were Department of Health (DOH) officials Vicente Belizario Jr., Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Gerardo Bayugo, Lyndon Lee Suy, Irma Asuncion, Julius Lecciones, Joyce Ducusin, and Rosalind Vianzon; Maria Lourdes Santiago and Melody Zamudio of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and Socorro Lupisan and Maria Rosario Capending of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Executives of Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp. were also included as respondents.

The corporate directors and officers of Sanofi named in the complaint are Carlito Realuyo, Sanislas Camart, Jean Louis Grunwald, Jean-Francois Vacherand, Conchita Santos, Jazel Anne Calvo, Pearl Grace Cabali, and Marie Esther De Antoni.

Meanwhile, those from Zuellig are Kasigod Jamias, Michael Becker, Ricardo Romulo, Imran Babar Chugtai, Raymund Azurin, Nilo Badiola, John Stokes Davison, Marc Franck, Ashley Gerard Antonio, Ana Liza Peralta, Rosa Maria Chua, Danilo Cahoy, Manuel Concio III, Roland Goco, and Ma. Visitacion Barreiro.

The DOH suspended the vaccination program in December 2017 after Sanofi Pasteur said the vaccine poses risk to those with no prior dengue infection. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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