DOJ summons Duque, Garin to Dengvaxia probe on June 25

MANILA The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday ordered Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, his predecessor Janette Garin and 38 others to attend the preliminary investigation on June 25 regarding the complaint filed by some parents over the death of several teens who received the controversial Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.

During the hearing on Thursday, Assistant State Prosecutor Maria Emilia Victorio, who chairs the DOJ panel, issued subpoenas to 38 respondents, among them Duque and Garin, to attend the probe, submit their respective counter-affidavits, and reaffirm their sworn statements before the panel.

The panel is conducting the preliminary investigation over the criminal complaints filed separately by the families, with the help of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO), over the death of nine children, namely, Aejay Bautista, Anjielica Pestillos, Lenard Baldonado, Zandro Colite, Abbie Hedia, Jansyn Art Bataa, Mark Axel Ebonia, Reijazztine Justin Alimagno, and Alexander Jaime.

The PAO has been conducting autopsies of individuals whose death has been linked to the effects of the vaccine. It submitted evidence to the DOJ on Thursday to prove that Dengvaxia manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, had already admitted as early as 2015 that the vaccine carries risks.

PAO chief Atty. Persida Acosta said the admission, described as four important identified risks," was contained in Sanofi's reply to the clarification sought by the National Formulary in December 2015.

These four important identified risks are allergic/anaphylactic reaction; viscerotropism (multiple organ dysfunction) and neurotropism (attack on nervous tissue); waning protection against dengue disease; and increase in severity of dengue disease. The latter was already made known to the public, especially among those who have no prior history of dengue.

Despite this, Acosta said the Department of Health (DOH) still insisted on its massive anti-dengue vaccination drive using Dengvaxia.

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 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; and Socorro Lupisan and Maria Rosario Capending of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

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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