MANILA - Former Health Secretary Janette Garin and current Health Secretary Francisco Duque III are facing new criminal complaints before the Department of Justice over the mass vaccination of the Dengvaxia vaccine.
On Tuesday, family members of 10 individuals who allegedly died due to the Dengvaxia vaccine filed multiple complaints of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, torture and violations of the Consumer Protection Act against Garin and 37 other respondents.
Garin is accused of spearheading the purchase and the implementation of the P3.5-billion vaccination program even when it was still under clinical trial.
Duque was impleaded in two complaints for obstruction of justice over his alleged refusal to provide the masterlist of Dengvaxia recipients in connection with the deaths of police officer Vicente Arugay and 10-year-old Crezele Ann Joy Viaros.
Former Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa had earlier said Arugay died of leptospirosis, not due to Dengvaxia.
But PAO forensics chief Dr. Erwin Erfe insisted Arugay tested negative of leptospirosis and died of symptoms linked to Dengvaxia.
“Sa nakita po namin, ang ikinamatay niya ay hemorrhage po ng lungs tsaka sa brain. Ganun din po, yung neurotropism. Multi-organ failure po ang nangyari kay SPO1 Arugay. Hindi po sa leptospirosis,” he said.
Former DOH OIC Secretary Herminigildo Valle was also sued because he was OIC when another alleged Dengvaxia victim, Adeline Castroverde, was inoculated with the vaccine.
Others named as respondents include officials of Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., the maker of Dengvaxia; Zuellig Pharma Corporation, the distributor of the vaccine; the Department of Health; the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine who conducted the clinical trials; and the Food and Drug Administration who approved Dengvaxia’s certificate of product registration.
Some of the complainants came from Cebu and are parents of seven children who allegedly died after being injected with the vaccine during former Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial’s term:
- Wilson and Theresa Alcontin (daughter Wiljean)
- Eleazar Brigoli, Sr. (son Elezar Jr)
- Jivy Casona and Marilyn Teleron (daughter Thrishanne)
- Erwin and Judelin Apa (son EJ Christian)
- Domingo and Luzviminda Cortes (daughter Joaniña)
- Marlon and Damasa Juevesano (son Gladimeir)
- Argel Sam Racuya and Lara Nina Garces (daughter Kianah Mae)
While Ubial’s name was mentioned in some of the complaints, she was not listed in the information sheets as Acosta earlier said she was going to serve as state witness.
THIRD BATCH OF COMPLAINTS
The new complaints form the third batch of Dengvaxia complaints pending before the DOJ.
The DOJ panel of prosecutors headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Emmie Victorio wrapped up on Tuesday its investigation into the first batch composed of 9 Dengvaxia complaints.
The only pending matter is Garin’s plea for the panel to admit the testimony of her expert witness, pathologist Raymundo Lo, who questioned the link between the Dengvaxia vaccine and the deaths.
The preliminary investigation, meanwhile, on the second batch of 8 complaints headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay is still ongoing.
Sought for comment, Jessie Andres, the lawyer of Garin, said he and his client have yet to receive copies of the complaints.
In a phone call, Duque defended himself against allegations he refused to provide the masterlist of Dengvaxia recipients.
“Sabi ko, may Data Privacy Act. They want the list, they need to subpoena it. Gusto nila i-submit ko and violate the Data Privacy Act. Matagal ko nang sinabi i-subpoena, bakit ayaw? What are you trying to do?,” he said.
He also objected to Ubial’s exclusion from the complaints.
“’Yung si Ubial, siya pumirma ng extension and expansion ng Dengvaxia, hindi kinasuhan… Ginawa raw nila si Ubial as their state witness. State witness eh guilty siya,” he said.
Duque called the complaints “malicious” and distractions to keep him from performing his job.
“Sino ba nakabawi ng P1.16B? Ako naman di ba? Sino ba nagpahinto? I was the one who stopped it. Ako nagpalagay ng Dengvaxia express lane,” he said.
“Isasama mo si Sec. Duque na humingi sa President ng P50,000 each for every family whose child died? They are malicious,” he added.
Garin, reacting to the fresh complaints said some of the complainants were not vaccinated and those that were inoculated "not during my time."
"Obviously, its a circus that has now affected public health," she said in a statement sent to reporters.
"Twenty one countries continuously using the vaccine. WHO repeatedly says vaccine does not cause death. Ultimate losers are the Filipino people. Let's pray that the inappropriate exhumation will not cause more health problems," she added.