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Lagot! Gordon wants criminal raps for Aquino over Dengvaxia

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By: Xave Gregorio

Senate Blue Ribbon committee chair Dick Gordon said he is set to recommend criminal cases against former President Noynoy Aquino and some of his former Cabinet officials over the Dengvaxia mess.

“Definitely criminal proceedings should be filed against all these people who are involved here,” Gordon said in an interview after the last Senate probe into the botched dengue vaccination program.

Asked if criminal cases should be filed against Aquino, along with former Health Secretary Janette Garin and former Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Gordon answered in the affirmative.

“Lahat sila. Anybody that has anything to do with the speed, the undue haste, the wastage of fund money and above all, the severe pain that has been inflicted by deaths and the painful stress and experience now being faced by our people,” Gordon said.

Even former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, who expanded the dengue immunization program, may face charges, the senator said.

Gordon also said Aquino, Garin, Abad and even Sanofi officials may face murder charges filed by parents.

“At the very least, may dereliction of duty, may negligence, so gross as to amount to bad faith at talagang violation of the procurement law,” Gordon said.

In the timeline the senator frequently refers to in the past seven Senate hearings on Dengvaxia, it was shown that the special allotment release order for the dengue vaccination program was released merely a week after the Food and Drug Administration approved Dengvaxia for commercial release.

Aquino, however, denied that there was a rush to purchase Dengvaxia and that the funding used for its procurement came from government savings.

But Gordon said he sees a link between the speed of procuring the P3.5 billion dengue vaccines and the elections, as Dengvaxia was ordered purchased as the Aquino administration was coming to a close.

The former president and some of his former officials are already facing two criminal cases filed with the Office of the Ombudsman filed separately by former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Buboy Syjuco for “mass murder” and by Gabriela Women’s Party for violation of the procurement law.

Gordon said he would release the committee report on March 20, which would outline the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon committee, including whether to file charges against former officials involved in the Dengvaxia mess.

“I am not happy [with this,] but I really believe that they are responsible,” he said.

Dengvaxia was given to over 830,000 children before its manufacturer, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Pasteur, disclosed in November 2017 that the vaccine may cause “severe disease” among those not yet infected with dengue.