DOJ panel summons 2 doctors in Dengvaxia complaints

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2018 09:26 AM

MANILA - The Department of Justice panel of prosecutors investigating the second batch of Dengvaxia complaints has summoned 2 doctors accused of facilitating the purchase of the anti-dengue vaccines, which allegedly led to the deaths of more than a hundred children.

The DOJ panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay required Dr. Raymundo Lo, former deputy executive director of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC), and Dr. Sonia Gonzales, also of PCMC, to appear before the panel on December 14, 2018 at 10 am so they can be furnished with copies of the complaints and supporting documents, and examine evidence presented by complainants.

They are also required to submit their counter-affidavits and the affidavits of their witnesses on December 28 at 10 am.

The Public Attorney’s Office on December 3 moved to include the two doctors as respondents in 8 Dengvaxia complaints filed before the DOJ in October.

PAO Chief Persida Acosta had claimed Lo allegedly admitted during a House hearing that he authorized Gonzales to sign, on his behalf, the purchase request dated January 21, 2016 which ordered P3 billion worth of Dengvaxia vaccines, the drug alleged to have caused the deaths of more than a hundred children, based on PAO’s count.

Lo, in a subsequent statement, denied the allegation and instead blamed Acosta and PAO of creating mistrust in vaccines which allegedly led to more deaths due to parents’ refusal to have their children vaccinated.

In all, PAO has filed 29 criminal complaints for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, torture, and violation of the Consumer Protection Act against former Health Secretary Janette Garin and other government officials, and officers of drug-maker Sanofi and distributor Zeullig Pharma over the deaths.

Current Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is himself facing complaints for obstruction to justice.

Lo, a pathologist, had disputed PAO’s conclusions in the House hearing and in his statement in support of Garin’s counter-affidavit. He questioned the procedure PAO forensics chief Dr. Erwin Erfe undertook to examine those who allegedly died due to Dengvaxia, saying an autopsy is not the correct methodology to establish that the controversial vaccine caused the deaths.

But Acosta rejected Lo’s findings saying Lo did not even conduct any autopsy on the bodies of the alleged Dengvaxia victims.

Acosta also accused Lo of having “conflict of interest” in testifying as an expert witness for Garin when he himself was involved in the purchase of Dengvaxia.