Pelayo IV: Philippine city mayor vs giant pharma

FINGERS point at various directions as the controversy on Dengvaxia, a dengue vaccine manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, continues to bring more questions and fear for those who received the vaccination. There have been probes which were launched independently by Congress and the Senate last 2016 investigating on the allegedly anomalous purchase of the dengue vaccines and on the issue that the project cost was too big and was given a nod even without congressional approval. But that’s another issue.

The most striking matter on this controversy is about the safety and health of those who got injected with Dengvaxia who were not previously exposed with the infection. The word “severe” no matter what grade or category we use it for point of reference is still a serious word no matter how we try to speak of it in mildness.

Here in a small but highly urbanized city of Angeles, the local chief executive did not take this so gently. The next Monday, Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, during his morning flag ceremony speech, had immediately called Dr. Lenario Santos, the head of the city health office, to get in touch with all the 6,000 local recipients of Dengvaxia and have a regular monitor on their health status.

A few days after, Mayor Ed Pamintuan fires the first response against pharmaceutical giant over the vaccine crisis. It’s not really a fight between David and Goliath. Sanofi Pasteur may be a multi-billion dollar company but EdPam, who also happens to be the League of Cities of the Philippines President and the Regional Development Council Chairman of Central Luzon, will not just accept the advisory of the pharma company and do nothing for his 6,000 constituents.

The city mayor recently met with Atty. Guillermo Canlas, a US-based practicing lawyer, to form a legal team from France, the EU, the US and legal consultants from various renowned legal institutions including Columbia University School of Law, Sorbonne and others.

EdPam wants to make sure the right legal measures are taken to compensate the damages done by the company and that he look at this incident as a reckless assault on the human rights of the innocent children and that my city is firing back a direct response against the pharma company that brought fear to those affected by the immunization program. Pamintuan was an active human rights lawyer before he entered government service.

A report from Rappler said that Pamintuan may be the first mayor to challenge the French vaccine manufacturer over this health controversy. Parents and families of those affected immediately praised the city mayor for taking a stand for the safety of the 6,000 students from Angeles who received the mass vaccination. Other folks hope that their local leaders would follow the same.
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