Duque blasts PAO chief for 'malicious' Dengvaxia rap

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2018 02:00 PM | Updated as of Apr 20 2018 02:39 PM

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MANILA - Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday described as "malicious and oppressive" charges filed against him by the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) in connection with the Dengvaxia mess. 

"Why implead a new secretary of Health who had nothing to do with the implementation and continuation? I find that malicious," Duque said in a press briefing. 

Duque, along with other former and incumbent Health officials, were implicated in criminal complaints filed before the Justice Department on Thursday for alleged reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and violation of the Anti-Torture law.

Parents of a teenager who died allegedly due to Dengvaxia filed the case with the assistance of PAO chief Persida Acosta.

Duque, however, said he had nothing to do with the implementation of the dengue immunization program since he was only appointed to the DOH last October 2017. 

He also slammed Acosta for not including former health secretary Paulyn Ubial in the charge sheet.

"Nagtataka ako bakit in-implead ako pero hindi in-implead si Ubial.
I think she (Ubial) is equally liable because she continued it (dengue vaccination program) despite knowing the red flags," he said.

The Dengvaxia vaccine was administered to about 800,000 school children.

In November 2017, vaccine-maker Sanofi Pasteur admitted that the drug may cause severe dengue if administered to patients who never contracted the mosquito-borne disease. 

Several parents sought for the PAO's help after they claimed that their children died due to complications brought by Dengvaxia.

A congressional inquiry was held to probe the matter. Clinical evidence linking the dengue vaccine to the deaths have yet to be established.