DOJ asked to reverse findings which absolved Duque

By Jeffrey Damicog

The Department of Justice (DOJ) was asked Thursday to reverse its findings which absolved Health Secretary Francis Duque III of liability over the deaths of children who received shots of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)

“All told, we implore upon this Honorable Panel to have a second hard look at the facts of the instant case; the evidence of both parties and the implications of the evidence-on-record,” read the motion for reconsideration filed by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on behalf of the families of nine dead children.

The motion for reconsideration was filed to appeal the February 27 resolution of the DOJ panel of prosecutors which found probable cause to indict former Health Secretary Janette Garin and her co-respondents with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

The panel cleared a number of respondents including Duque, as well as dismissed other accusations including obstruction of justice and violations of the Anti-Torture Law.

“Sec. Duque appears to be as equally guilty as the other respondents for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in Homicide, and violation of the Anti-Torture Law. From his official acts, he appears to be guilty of Obstruction of Justice,” insisted the PAO in its motion for reconsideration.

The PAO reminded that during Duque’s earlier stint as health secretary, he was already engaged as early as 2005 in research projects in addressing the country’s dengue problem.

“No doubt, respondent Duque was fully aware of the development of the Dengvaxia program, including the serious concerns over the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, the warnings of the Filipino scientists against the systemic side effects seen in the Sanofi-sponsored clinical trial, and the four important Sanofi-identified risks of Dengvaxia,” the PAO said.

“Yet, he deliberately continued the indiscriminate mass inoculation of Dengvaxia that eventually resulted in the deaths of the innocent vaccinees, who are now calling for justice and vengeance from their graves for the sufferings they had undergone in the hands of respondent Duque,” it stressed.

The PAO also disagreed with Duque’s argument that he ordered to stop the inoculation of the vaccine after Dengvaxia-manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur issued a Nov. 29, 2017 warning about the dangers of the vaccine.

The PAO cited that even on Nov. 29, 2017, children were still getting shots of the vaccine.

“Contrary to the finding of this Honorable Panel, respondent Duque did not take measures to protect the public and to monitor and attend to the health of the vaccine recipients for any adverse event following immunization,” the PAO added.