By Jeffrey Damicog
Two respondents failed to respond to the accusations against them in the fourth batch of Dengvaxia complaints concerning 13 children who received shots of the controversial anti-dengue vaccine.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel Austria, who chairs the panel of prosecutors handling the case, identified the two respondents as former Department of Health (DOH) official Dr. Herminigildo Valle and Zuellig Pharma executive Imran Babar Chugtai.
Out of the around 40 respondents named in the 13 complaints comprising the 4th batch of Dengvaxia cases, Austria said Valle and Chugtai were the only ones who failed to file counter-affidavits in response to the accusations.
“They have waived their rights to answer the allegations against them,” Austria stressed over the two respondents’ failure to file counter-affidavits.
The prosecutor noted the two respondents were able to file counter-affidavits in the first, second and third batches of complaints concerning the Dengvaxia controversy.
The panel led by Austria is conducting a preliminary investigation on the fourth batch of complaints which was filed by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on behalf of the families of the victims.
“We will rule based on the evidence presented before the panel,” Austria assured.
The fourth batch of complaints concerns the deaths of 12 children and the ordeal of Mark Joseph Estandarte, an 11-year-old survivo, after getting shots of the Dengvaxia vaccine.
The other deceased children were Aldrid Aberia, Micaella Mainit, Eira Mae Galoso, Riceza Salgo, Leiden Alcabasa, Jonnel Dacquel, Kenchie Ocfemia, Angelica Pulumbarit, John Marky Ferrer, Maricel Manriza, Charmel Flordeliz and Annaliza Silverio.
Under the complaints, the respondents, including former health secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, are accused of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code; torture resulting in the death of a person and torture committed against children under Republic Act 9745, the Anti-Torture Act of 2009; and for violating RA 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines, particularly, the mislabelling of drugs and devices, liability for defective products, and liability for product and service imperfection.