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‘Di siya doktor! Gatchalian wants Dengvaxia report amended to drop charges vs Noy

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by: Xave Gregorio

Senator Win Gatchalian said he would be proposing an amendment to the draft Blue Ribbon committee report on the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine to remove the proposed criminal charges against former President Noynoy Aquino, who he said only relied on the technical expertise of former Health Secretary Janette Garin.

“Si President PNoy ay hindi naman doktor at siya ay nag-rely sa advise ng kanyang mga secretary, lalo na sa pagdating ng medical and technical advices,” Gatchalian said Wednesday (April 18) in a media briefing.

“He relied on the advice of former Secretary Garin pagdating sa paga-administer nitong Dengvaxia,” he said.

Gatchalian said he did not see that Aquino acted with bad faith when he initiated the mass dengue vaccination program during his term.

However, he said Aquino is still not completely off the hook over the fiasco.

“Definitely, accountable siya being the head of the agency. But accountability doesn’t mean that you’re criminally liable,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian said he has signed the draft committee report, but noted that he may propose amendments to the report which recommended that Aquino, along with Garin, former Budget Secretary Butch Abad and several other government doctors should be slapped with criminal charges for their involvement in the Dengvaxia mess.

“Criminally liable, hindi ako sangayon doon dahil nga at the end si former Secretary Garin ang nagrekomenda. If we look at all the actions, siya talaga ang nagrekomenda,” he said.

“She is really the prime mover of this Dengvaxia fiasco,” he said.

Senator JV Ejercito has previously said that he would also move to amend the report to remove the recommended criminal charge against Aquino, as he does not believe that the former president could be involved in graft and corruption.

The criminal charges against Aquino has also been opposed by Senators Ping Lacson and Bam Aquino.

While Gatchalian would push for the dropping of criminal charges against Aquino, he said he would also like former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial to be charged for expanding the vaccination program during her term, supposedly due to pressure by the powerful Commission on Appointments.

“Hindi tamang dahilan ito. Dahil bakit ka maggi-give in sa pressure ng mga politiko at kapalit doon ay buhay naman ng mag bata at kababayan natin? In fact, she succumbed to pressure to save her job and save her employment as being a secretary in the government,” he said.

“So, in my mind, we cannot hide the fact that Secretary Ubial, that she administered new cases of Dengvaxia, so she is equally liable just like Secretary Garin,” he said.

Ubial is not among the personalities who Gordon recommended charged over the Dengvaxia mess. Asked to explain, the senator said the rejected health secretary was “under duress” when she expanded the vaccination program.

The draft Blue Ribbon committee report has already gathered te required nine signatures for it to be tackled in plenary when session resumes on May 15.

Gatchalian, who is among those who signed the report, said the proposed criminal charge against Aquino would be a contentious issue among senators when the report is tackled in plenary.

“I think this would be a heated discussion inside the plenary,” he said.