MANILA - Former Health Secretary Janette Garin failed to show up in the justice department’s investigation into the second batch of Dengvaxia complaints on Monday.
Garin was supposed to submit her counter-affidavit to answer multiple complaints of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, torture and violations of the Consumer Act of the Philippines in connection with the deaths of 8 individuals alleged to be caused by the Dengvaxia vaccine.
She is accused of procuring P3.5 billion worth of the vaccine even when it was still under clinical trial.
Garin’s absence prompted Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta to ask the DOJ panel of prosecutors that the former health secretary be deemed to have waived her right to file her response to the allegations.
“Nagtataka kami kung bakit si Dr. Garin hindi nag-attend sa hearing na ito. Ngayon ang pagkakataon niya para mag-submit siya ng counter-affidavit. Kaya kami ay nagmosyon na huwag na siyang payagang mag-submit pa rito, para hindi ma-delay ang kasong ito,” she told reporters after the hearing.
(We were wondering why Dr. Garin did not attend this hearing. This is her chance to submit her counter-affidavit. We moved that she not be allowed to submit so that this case would not be delayed any further.)
Acosta insisted Garin was furnished a copy of the complaint and notified about the proceedings.
“Meron. May record. Notified lahat ‘yan. Ang punto doon ay, hindi dapat balewalain nila dahil nagkakamatay ang mga bata,” she said.
(It's on record. They are all notified. The point is they should not ignore the death of the children.)
But in a text message, Garin said she was “not informed of such and we have not received any complaint from PAO.”
Her lawyer, Jessie Andres, also told ABS-CBN News the former Cabinet official has not been served with any subpoena nor a copy of the new complaints.
"She has not received any notice of hearing so it cannot be said that she was not present in any hearing. But we will immediately file the proper manifestation and ask the DOJ to furnish us a copy of the complaints," he said in a text message.
Garin was also not present in the first hearing of the case last October 15.
During Monday’s hearing, a total of 23 of the 37 respondents named in the complaints submitted their counter-affidavits, with 2 additional respondents providing an advance copy of their sworn statements executed outside the country through their lawyer.
These include current Department of Health officials Drs. Julius Lecciones, Joyce Ducusin, Gerado Bayugo, Lyndon Lee Suy, Irma Asuncion, Rosalind Vianzon, and resigned DOH Usec. Kenneth Hartigan-Go.
Three of the 8 Sanofi Pasteur officers and 11 of the 15 Zeullig Pharma Corporation officers named in the complaint also filed their counter-affidavits, in addition to the 2 counter-affidavits by Zuellig officers who were still abroad. Sanofi is the maker of the Dengvaxia vaccine while Zeullig is the distributor in the Philippines.
Dr. Socorro Lupisan, director of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine which conducted the clinical trials, and Maria Lourdes Santiago, Deputy Director General for Field Regulatory Operations Office of the Food and Drug Administration which approved the Dengvaxia vaccine’s certificate of product registration, also filed their sworn statements.
Aside from Garin, former DOH OIC Herminigildo Valle has yet to file his counter-affidavit.
The DOJ panel led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay gave other respondents who failed to submit their counter-affidavits until the next hearing on November 5, 2 p.m. to comply.