MANILA - Former President Benigno Aquino III will attend the Senate investigation into the dengue vaccine procured and used for an immunization program during his term, his cousin, Senator Bam Aquino said Wednesday.
"My understanding is that he is attending tomorrow," the young Aquino said of the former chief executive.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee invited the former leader to its next hearing to explain his administration's role in the procurement of the vaccine Dengvaxia after manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur admitted that it may cause "more cases of severe disease" if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne illness before.
Committee Chair Senator Richard Gordon said Aquino, former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and former Budget Secretary Butch Abad will be treated “fairly” during the hearing.
The Senate on Monday began its legislative inquiry into the Department of Health's (DOH) purchase of Dengvaxia that triggered a health scare in the country.
The department earlier this month suspended its vaccination program after Sanofi Pasteur's admission, and both houses of Congress began their separate investigations into the issue thereafter.
The Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the vaccine for individuals aged 9 to 45 years old in December 2015.
The government has procured P3-billion worth of Dengvaxia intended for one million public school children in areas reported to have the highest incidence of dengue in 2015: in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON regions.
The vaccine was to be administered in three phases at 6-month intervals beginning April 2016.
Sanofi Pasteur's statement last month was the first time the pharmaceutical company acknowledged that Dengvaxia should not be recommended to individuals if they have never been infected with the dengue virus.
The manufacturer said it would ask health authorities to advise physicians and patients of the new information in countries where the drug has been approved. - report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News