CRIMINAL charges, including graft and technical malversation, were recommended against former President Benigno Aquino III and Cabinet secretaries of his administration over the Dengvaxia issue.
As they concluded their joint Congressional hearing on Dengvaxia anomaly, House committees on good government and public accountability and health approved a report which called for the filing of charges against Aquino and two of his Cabinet members.
The two committees approved the report with a vote of 14-4.
Aside from Aquino, also held accountable are former Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, former Health Secretary Janette Garin, Dr. Mari Joyce Ducusin, Dr. Julius Lecceiones and Dr. Kennet Hartiga-Go.
“It is apparent that there was collusion among public officials to ensure that a large quantity of Dengvaxia vaccines would be purchased by the government for administration to school children in the National Capital Region, Regions III and IV,” the report read.
“These officials may be held liable for, conspiring and confederating with one another for the purpose of giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence under Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” the committee report added.
Meanwhile Aquino, Abad, Garin and Lecciones may be charged with Illegal Use of Public Funds or Property or Technical Malversation over the procurement of Dengavaxia vaccines in 2015, amounting to P3.5 billion, even though there was no appropriation of funds.
“The FY 2015 General Appropriations Act did not appropriate funds for the acquisition of the dengue vaccine in the budget of the DoH. The dengue vaccine was likewise not included in the DoH’s Expanded Immunization Program for 2015. Thus, the DoH, or its agencies, was not authorized to procure a dengue vaccine in 2015,” it read.
There being no allocation for the vaccine procurement, the President approved Garin’s request for the use of “savings” for the acquisition.
The two committees also recommended the filing of Grave Misconduct charges against the former officials.
Two years after it was implemented, mostly in public schools, the vaccine maker, pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur reported concerns that Filipinos, mostly schoolchildren, could be potentially at risk of a more severe disease, if the recipient of the vaccine had not had a previous dengue infection.
This prompted the DoH to stop the administration of the vaccine and alerted those given the shots to immediately see a doctor when symptoms start to manifest.
The House of Representatives has started investigating the matter.