RELATIVES of alleged victims of the controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia yesterday filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) 101 new complaints against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and former health secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin.
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda Acosta and her team swamped the DOJ with two truckloads of documents to back up their complaints.
It was the sixth batch of complaints to be filed against the two respondents. Acosta had previously filed a total of 60 complaints against Duque, Garin, other former and current DOH officials, officials of Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Food and Drug Administration as well as executives of French pharmaceutical giant, Sanofi Pasteur and of Zuellig Pharma Corporation. Sanofi is the maker of Dengvaxia while Zuellig is its local distributor.
“They are behind the Dengvaxia mass indiscriminate vaccination program,” Acosta said, adding the complainants were relatives of 101 children who died after being vaccinated with the anti-dengue vaccine as well as one who survived.
Like in the previous complaints, Duque, Garin and 27 of the same respondents were accused of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, as well as alleged violation of the Consumer Protection Act and the Anti-Torture Law.
Likewise, they were also charged for alleged violation of the Pharmacy Act.
Garin was the health secretary when the mass anti-dengue vaccination program was launched in Metro Manila, the Calabarzon and Central Luzon during the Aquino administration.
When the Duterte administration took over, Duque continued the vaccination program for some time.
PAO said the respondents failed to fully inform the intended recipients of the nature and risks of the vaccine, especially for those not yet infected with dengue, as well as the need to get their consent.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the DOJ will evaluate the complaints. “If the DOJ finds the new complaints sufficient in form and substance, it will proceed to conduct a preliminary investigation and issue subpoenas to the respondents requiring them to submit their counter-affidavits and other controverting evidence within 10 days from notice,” Guevarra said.
Duque expressed confidence that the latest charges filed against him and Garin will eventually be dismissed.
“Whatever the new charges are, my answer will be the same. These cases have been dismissed already and have no basis. They are just insisting on implicating me in charges being filed,” said Duque, adding: “We respect substantive and procedural due process by the courts and I am confident that this will eventually be dismissed.”
The health chief noted how the DOJ already dismissed back in March 2019 an earlier case filed against him also related to the anti-dengue shots.
“The cases filed at the DOJ have been dismissed. It has been proven that I have nothing to do with the decision to vaccinate children using Dengvaxia,” said Duque.
Last year, the DOJ dismissed charges of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide against Duque related to the death of eight children, who received Dengvaxia.
The same DOJ decision, however, found sufficient evidence against Garin and other respondents. – With Gerard Naval