By Jeffrey Damicog
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said more persons will be charged over the mess surrounding the purchase and distribution of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia now being blamed for scores of deaths.
Acosta gave this assurance after the PAO filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) last April 5 criminal complaints against former Health Secretary Janette Garin and 34 others for the deaths of four children who got vaccinated with Dengvaxia.
“May part two pa po ang filing na ito (The filing of the complaints will have a part two),” she said.
Last April 5, the PAO filed four separate complaints before the DOJ concerning the deaths of Aejay Bautista, who was 11 years old when he died on January 24, 2018; Anjielica Pestillos who was 10 when passed away on December 5, 2017; Lenard Baldonado who 10 when he passed away on November 9, 2017; and Zandro Colite who was just 11 when he died on December 27, 2017.
PAO forensics chief Dr. Erwin Erfe noted that all of the children had no history of dengue infection; received one up to three doses of Dengvaxia; became sick after vaccination with fever, rash, epistaxis, headache, stomach ache, body weakness, slurring of speech, among others; died as early as 11 days and up to eight months after vaccination of the last dose; and forensic examination of the bodies showed enlargement of organs and extensive bleeding in various organs.
Under each of the four complaints, each of the respondents have been accused committing of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code; and for torture committed against children and resulting to their death in violation of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
Vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corporation were also included as respondents in each of the four complaints.
The PAO chief reminded that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, headed by Senator Richard Gordon, also conducted an inquiry over the Dengvaxia issue but has yet to release its report.
“So ’pag labas po ng resulta ng Senate (Once the Senate releases the results of its probe) we will be filing a supplemental complaint in accordance with such recommendation,” she said.
Apart from this, she said the Department of Justice (DOJ) tasked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct its own investigation into the P3.5-billion purchase of the vaccine in the last administration.
For its part, PAO continues to investigate the deaths, injuries and illnesses related to the vaccine, said Acosta.