MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte wants government agencies to cooperate with each other in investigating a scrapped P3.5-billion anti-dengue vaccination program, his spokesperson said Wednesday.
"Ang mandato ng Presidente: mag-imbestiga. Paano naman matatapos ang imbestigasyon kung hindi nagtutulungan?" Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told DZMM.
(The mandate of the President is to investigate. How can the investigation be completed without cooperation?)
The government late last year suspended the immunization drive after French drug maker Sanofi Pasteur disclosed that its anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia could pose greater risks if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne sickness.
The Department of Justice had tapped the Public Attorney's Office to conduct autopsies on deaths being linked to the vaccine. PAO said it has found a pattern leading to the death of at least 18 children who received Dengaxia.
PAO, however, refused to work with a panel of experts from the state-run Philippine General Hospital, alleging that the latter has ties with Sanofi. The PGH experts, who were tapped by the Department of Health, have denied this.
The House opposition bloc on Tuesday urged Duterte to direct PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta to cooperate with PGH and stop her "pseudo forensic intervention."
Roque said all government employees must work together unless there is evidence that an agency is betraying public interest.
"Kung mayroon naman silang reklamo sa isang ahensya na sa tingin nila ay nagiging traydor sa ating publiko, e di idulog nila sa Palasyo. Pero hanggang walang ganyang ebidensya naman, inaasahan ng Palasyo na lahat ay nagtutulungan," he said.
(If they have complaints against an agency that they think is betraying the public, they can seek help from the Palace. But until there is evidence on this, the Palace expects everyone to work together.)
"Matindi rin ang kalaban dito -- isang multi-national company. Habang nagbabangayan, siguro natutuwa ang multi-national company na iyan," he added.
(The enemy here is tough, it is a multi-national company. While we squabble, that firm is probably rejoicing.)
Government employees, he said, should await further instruction from the Palace about the issue.