Former Pres. Noynoy Aquino, ex-budget secretary could be liable in anti-dengue vaccine homicide


By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said they will file more charges against the officials of the previous administration implicated in the Dengvaxia vaccine scandal.

She said the charges for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide might even include more respondents.

“We are still waiting for the result and recommendation of the Senate blue ribbon committee headed by Sen. (Richard) Gordon as well as the recommendation by the House on the liabilities of higher officials like former President (Benigno) Aquino (III). Whatever the recommendations will be, we will follow,” Acosta said.

She said the charges filed against former Health Sec. Janette Garin and 34 other people by the families of four schoolchildren who died after being inoculated by the anti-dengue vaccine last week was only the first of a series of charges.

“That’s only the first batch of complaints covering four deaths. We have documented 43 deaths so far, so definitely there are more complaints coming,” Acosta said.

The PAO chief said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) would file a separate complaint against the former officials involved in the procurement of the PHP 3.5-billion vaccines from manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp.

She said the DoJ divided the task between the PAO and the NBI. “Our investigation focused on death and illnesses while the NBI was assigned to look into the procurement aspect.”

Among those being looked into by the NBI is the possible liability of Aquino and former Budget Sec. Florencio Abad who both approved the financing for the immunization program reportedly without undergoing the proper procurement procedures.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. have already filed criminal charges against Aquino, Abad and 18 other people over the Dengvaxia controversy before the Justice department last February.

But the investigating prosecutors suspended their probe due to incomplete information and documents in the charges for multiple homicide and physical injuries through negligence.

PAO filed four separate complaints for the families of Aejay Bautista, 11; Angelica Pestilos, 10; Lenard Baldonado, 10; and Zandro Colite, 11–four schoolchildren who died allegedly due to the Dengvaxia shots.

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