MANILA - Former President Benigno Aquino III and 2 of his former cabinet ministers on Monday faced a preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice over a botched dengue vaccination program under his watch.
Aquino, former budget secretary Butch Abad and former health secretary Janette Garin were cited in a complaint for criminal negligence, reckless imprudence, technical malversation, causing undue injuries, and violations of the Procurement Law.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, which filed the complaint, wants Aquino, Abad, and Garin to be held responsible for the administration of anti-dengue vaccines on 800,000 school children.
Under DOJ procedures, the preliminary investigation will determine whether or not charges will be filed in court.
French drug-maker Sanofi-Pasteur, which supplied the Aquino government with Dengvaxia, admitted in late 2017 that it might cause more severe symptoms of the disease if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne disease before.
The government of President Rodrigo Duterte scrapped the vaccination program as several parents claimed that their children died after being given Dengvaxia.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigated the issue and said in its report that Aquino and his former secretaries "should be held criminally liable" because the immunization program was done with "undue haste."
Garin had criticized the report, calling it a "personal opinion" of its chairman, Senator Richard Gordon. She also defended the vaccination program as a "timely and responsive government action" against the dengue problem at that time.
--report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News