MANILA - A lawmaker believes the procurement of P3.5 billion in dengue vaccines before the 2016 election may qualify as malversation of funds.
Speaking to ANC Tuesday, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito said it was clear from the previous Senate hearings that the fund used to purchase the Dengvaxia vaccines was not part of the national budget.
"Tingin ko talaga ito ay case ng malversation. Ang pinagkunan talaga ng P3.5 billion ng Dengvaxia ay yung sa miscellaneous and personnel fund na wala sa General Appropriations Act of 2016," he said.
Ejercito, chair of the committee on health and demography, said a president is allowed align to realign funds from savings but is only allowed to do so within the same agency.
It was no less than former Health Secretary Janette Garin who admitted that the funds used for Dengvaxia was not in the 2016 budget but said "it was in the pipeline."
"Ang [realignment], puwede mong gawin 'yan kung nasa same agency. Pero 'yung mismong miscellaneous personnel fund? Walang koneksiyon at all sa dengue vaccines," said Ejercito.
French drug-maker Sanofi earlier revealed that Dengvaxia may cause more severe symptoms on those who had not been previously infected by the mosquito-borne disease, triggering a public scare.
However, in a previous Senate hearing, Sanofi officials assured the families of the over 800,000 affected Filipino children that Dengvaxia is safe and efficacious.
Senate hearings on the issue will continue next year.