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House panels want Nonoy Aquino, several others charged over Dengvaxia mess

MANILA. Former President Benigno Aquino III. (SunStar File)

A JOINT panel of the House of Representatives recommended Wednesday, February 6, the filing of criminal and administrative charges against former President Benigno Aquino III and several others over the Dengvaxia mess.

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability said in a report that Aquino, along with former Budget secretary Florencio Abad and former Health secretary Janette Garin, conspired to have the controversial anti-dengue vaccine implemented in the country, "even though the safety and efficacy of Dengvaxia had not been clearly established."

Around 830,000 individuals, mostly school children, were vaccinated with Dengvaxia in 2016. The government's P3.5-billion immunization program, though, was suspended on December 1, 2017, shortly after the Dengvaxia manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, said the vaccine may cause severe dengue in those who have not contracted the disease prior to vaccination.

Voting 14-4, the panels said there was collusion among Aquino and other officials to ensure the purchase of around 200,000 multi-dose vials of Dengvaxia in March 2016.

Aquino et al.'s move was in violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, they added.

Other personalities the panels want charged are Philippine Children's Medical Center (PCMC) executive director Dr. Julius Lecciones, Dr. Rosalind Vianzon, Dr. Maria Joyce Ducusin, Mario Baquilod, Dr. Estrella Paje-Villar, and members of the Bids and Awards Committee of PCMC.

READ: Aquino says Dengvaxia mess becoming politicized

These personalities conspired 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," the panels added. (SunStar Philippines)


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