DOJ likely to merge Dengvaxia raps vs. Aquino, others

MANILA The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday said it is likely to consolidate the complaint filed by private individuals and groups and the charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Office of the Ombudsman against former President Benigno Noynoy Aquino III, two former Cabinet officials, and several former and incumbent officials of the Department of Health (DOH) in connection with the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

This was bared by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra when sought for a comment on Tuesday.

Except for the forum, the complaint filed by the NBI is essentially the same as the complaint filed by the VACC. there is a possibility that the complaints may be consolidated to avoid conflicting resolutions. Chances are, (at) DOJ ang consolidation dahil naunang na-file yung VACC complaint sa DOJ (The DOJ might be in charge of the consolidation since the VACC complaint was filed first at the DOJ, Guevarra said in a text message sent to the Philippine News Agency.

Take note that the motion to consolidate should come from any of the parties concerned, he added.

In a letter signed by NBI Director Dante Gierran addressed to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, the NBI recommended the conduct of preliminary investigation against Aquino and his co-respondents including former budget secretary Florencio Abad, former health secretary Janette Garin for conniving to introduce the Dengvaxia vaccine in the country by circumventing procurement and other government processes.

The NBI said Aquino, Abad, and Garin should be held liable for technical malversation for conspiring to unlawfully effect the release of savings from the fiscal year 2015 Mutual Benefit Personnel Fund and use the same to augment the anti-dengue immunization program.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Inc. (VPCI). filed the complaint before the DOJ in February against the three and several others for possible violation of Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); Section 65 of RA 9184 (Government Procurement, Reform Act); Article 220 (Technical Malversation) of the Revised Penal Code; Article 365 (Criminal Negligence) of the Revised Penal Code; and for other violations of the law.

Also named as respondents in the NBI complaint are health officials Maria Joyce Ducusin, Julius Lecciones, Maria Wilda Silva, Mario Baquilod, and Rosalinda Vianzon.

The agency also recommended that former health secretary Paulyn Ubial be investigated for technical malversation for pursuing the Degue vaccine program project despite knowing that it was never part of the 2015 or 2016 General Appropriations Act.

The vaccine was purchased for the amount of PHP3.5 billion and was used for the vaccination of 830,000 children.

The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) earlier cited that there are over 200 deaths which can be attributed to Dengvaxia.

The NBI said that the purchase was made without certificates of product registration (CPR) given to Dengvaxia which only received a certificate of exemption.

The bureau added there were irregularities in the issuance of the exemption and that the issuance of Certificate of Exemption was reduced into a mere procedural technicality that should be complied in order for the responsible officials to procure Dengvaxia.

Likewise, the NBI asked the Ombudsman to hold Garin, health undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go, former officer-in-charge (OIC) of Food and Drug Authority (FDA) lawyer Nicolas Lutero; former OIC of Center For Drug Research and Regulation(CDRR)-FDA Ma. Lourdes Santiago; OIC CDRR-FDA Melody Zamudio ; FDA consultants Grace Medina and Imelda Matero; health undersecretaries Lyndon Lee Suy and Vito Roque; and Sanofi officers Conchita Santos, Oliver Charmeil, Guillaume Leroy, Jean Antoine Zinsou, Thomas Triomphe , Joselito del Mundo Sta.Ana and Jervin Papelleras liable for violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The NBI said Formulary Executive Council chairperson Froilan Bagabaldo and members Cleotilde How, Cecicilia Jimeno, Hilton Lam, Cecilia Maramba-Lazarte, Paul Matthew Pasco, Imelda Pena and John Wong should also be investigated for violation of the same provision R.A 3019.

The NBI accused the respondents of causing undue injury to the government by giving Sanofi unwarranted privilege in connection with the anti-dengue vaccine deal.

Last June 4, Aquino, Abad and Garin submitted their counter-affidavit each and sworn to before the DOJ panel, headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rossane Balauag with members, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Hazel Decena Valdez, Assistant State Prosecutors Consuelo Corazon Pazziuagan and Gino Paolo Santiago at the DOJ in response to the criminal complaint filed by VACC and VPCI.

Last June 22, the complainants submit their reply-affidavits before the DOJ panel of prosecutors during the preliminary hearing of the case.

The panel gave the respondents in the case up to July 20 to file their respective rejoinders.

Also named as respondents are DOH undersecretaries Carol Tanio, Gerardo Bayugo, Lilibeth David and Mario Villaverde; and assistant secretaries Lyndon Lee Suy and Nestor Santiago; health department's Financial Management Service director Laureano Cruz; directors Dr. Joyce Ducusin, Dr. May Wynn Belo, Dr. Leonila Gorgolon, Dr. Rio Magpantay, Dr. Ariel Valencia and Dr. Julius Lecciones; retired health undersecretaries Dr. Nemesio Gako, Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., and Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go; and Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, who served as Garin's head executive assistant.

Other named as respondents are officials and employees of the pharmaceutical company Zuellig, which supplied the Dengvaxia vaccine; and Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine manufacturer. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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