Kin of possible Dengvaxia victim file criminal raps vs. health execs

MANILA Another family assisted by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) on Thursday filed the fifth criminal complaint before the Department of Justice (DOJ) this time against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and 36 others, including former Health Secretary Janette Garin over the death of a teenager inoculated with controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta filed complaints for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code and violation of Republic Act No. 9745 (Anti-Torture Act) against Duque, Garin and 35 others over the death of Abbie Hedia, 13, from Muntinlupa City.

Aside from Duque, also included as respondents in this complaint are Dr. Maria Lourdes Santiago and Melody Zamudio.

Acosta said that Duque was included in the complaint because Hedia was given Dengvaxia shots in November 2017, under his term as current DOH chief.

Wala po kaming masamang intensyon sa kanino man , ang amin lamang ay mabigyan ng hustisya ang mga batang namatay matapos mabakunahan. Ang pinakamangandang gawin niya (Duque) ay magpaliwanag po sya dun sa Department of Justice at gayun din po sa hukuman (We have no evil intentions towards anyone. We just want to provide justice to families of the children who have died after being immunized. The best thing he can do to explain his side to the Department of Justice as well in the court), Acosta told reporters.

For his part, PAO forensic team led by Dr. Erwin Erfe. said that Hedia died died last Feb. 10 due to multiple organ failure and extensive brain hemorage.

In this particular case nakakita po kami ng dalawa (we saw two causes) of the death of the victim: neorotopism and vicerotrophism. Neotrophism meaning the brain namaga (was swollen), nagkaroon ng (There was a) congestion, then (it) caused extensive hemorage, Erfe told reporters.

The PAO filed the charges after its forensic teams established that all five victims died of organ failures that could be attributed to the vaccine.

Apart from Garin, those who have been named as respondents in all five complaints are Dr. Socorro Lupisan and Dr. Maria Rosario Capeding of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM); and other officials of the Department of Health (DOH) who were involved in the purchase of the vaccine, namely, Vicente Belizario Jr., Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Gertardo Bayugo, Lyndon Lee Suy, Irma Ascuncion, Julius Lecciones, Joyce Ducusin, Rosalind Vianzon, and Mario Baguilod.

Vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corporation were also included as respondents in each of the complaints.

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

While, 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.

Earlier, Acosta said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is currently conducting its own investigation into the PHP3.5 billion procurement of Dengvaxia.

Among those being looked into by the NBI is the possible liability of former President Benigno Aquino III and former budget secretary Florencio Abad, who both approved the funding of the immunization program reportedly without undergoing proper procurement procedures.

To recall, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. (VPCI) filed criminal charges against former President Benigno Aquino III and 19 others over the Dengvaxia controversy before the DOJ last February.

The preliminary investigation is set on April 20.

The DOH suspended the vaccination program in December 2017 after Sanofi Pasteur said the vaccine poses risk to those with no prior dengue infection. (With reports from Jay Ray Masayda OJT-PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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