Palace still awaiting NBI report on Dengvaxia controversy

MALACA√ĎANG is still awaiting the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) report on the Dengvaxia controversy, but is expected to give weight to the Senate blue ribbon committee report which recommended that former President Benigno Aquino III and former Health secretary Janette Garin be held criminally liable.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said Friday, April 13, that the Senate report will definitely be taken into consideration when President Rodrigo Duterte decides on the next steps that should be taken to address the issue.

"That's a report created by a powerful committee of a co equal branch of government that will be given much weight by the executive when it decides its next course of action on the issue," he said in a statement.

"The President though is still awaiting for the report of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) on the matter," he added.

The draft report released by the Senate blue ribbon panel found that the procurement of P3.5-billion worth of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia was done with "undue haste."

The committee also emphasized in its report that Aquino, Garin, and former Budget secretary Florencio Abad were "primary conspirators" in the purchase of Dengvaxia.

"Aquino, Garin, Abad, and other officials are primary conspirators and msut be held criminally liable... and must be prosecuted for all the tragedy, damage and possible deaths resulting from the Dengvaxia mass vaccination program," Senate blue ribbon chair Richard Gordon told a press conference Wednesday, April 11.

Around 830,000 individuals, mostly school children, received the vaccine before Health Secretary Francisco Duque suspended the immunization program on December 1, 2017, shortly after the release of new findings by Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur that the vaccine may cause severe dengue in seronegative individuals, or those who have not contracted the disease prior to vaccination.

Duterte has kept his distance from the issue and instead directed the NBI to finish its investigation into the issue to find out who must be held criminally accountable. (SunStar Philippines)
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