Duterte wanted murder raps filed over alleged Dengvaxia deaths, says PAO chief

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 15 2018 12:40 PM | Updated as of Nov 15 2018 12:41 PM

MANILA - Public Attorney's Office chief Persida Acosta on Thursday revealed President Rodrigo Duterte wanted her to file murder complaints in connection with the deaths allegedly caused by the Dengvaxia vaccine.

Speaking to reporters after the continuation of the Department of Justice's probe into the second batch of Dengvaxia complaints, Acosta said Duterte gave this advice to her during a meeting with the President in Malacañang in February.

Present during the meeting were then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Dr. Anthony Leachon, Dr. Francisco Cruz, then-VACC chair Dante Jimenez and PAO forensics chief Dr. Erwin Erfe, according to Acosta.

She said they presented to Duterte the findings of the first batch of complaints.

Acosta however did not heed the President's advice and instead filed complaints for criminal negligence, reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, citing lack of documents.

"Wala pa kaming complete documents. Noong natanggap namin 'yun, naisampa na ang first batch. Reckless imprudence lang ebidensya," she said.

Acosta admitted that a conversation with President Duterte about filing murder case regarding Dengvaxia was supposedly confidential. The lawyer said she inadvertently mentioned it because “nadulas” or because she slipped. 

She earlier said PAO is studying the possibility of upgrading the criminal negligence complaints to murder but on Thursday, she said PAO will wait for the result of the probe on the first batch of Dengvaxia complaints.

A worker shows used anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia inside a vaccine storage room in Sta. Cruz, Metro Manila. Reuters

On Thursday, PAO also filed 2 more complaints against former Health Secretary Janette Garin, current Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and other respondents also named in previous complaints.

Duque is being held responsible in 1 case because the child was supposedly inoculated during his term while he is accused of obstruction of justice in another case because he allegedly refused to provide a masterlist of those who received the Dengvaxia vaccine.

In total 4 batches or 29 Dengvaxia complaints are pending before the DOJ.