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Ejercito: Garin, Abad most liable for Dengvaxia mess; Noy not off the hook

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By Xave Gregorio

While former President Noynoy Aquino is “guilty of negligence” in the Dengvaxia mess, Health Secretary Janette Garin and former Budget Secretary Butch Abad are still the most liable for the botched vaccination drive, Senator JV Ejercito said.

“It is [Aquino’s] two Cabinet members who should be primarily held liable for the Dengvaxia mess that has endangered the lives of almost one million children,” Ejercito said in a statement.

Ejercito, chair of the Senate health committee, said Garin and Abad are the “primary conspirators” in the P3.5 billion school-based dengue immunization program, where around 830,000 students were inoculated with Dengvaxia, revealed to cause serious disease among those not yet infected with dengue.

The senator added that Garin recommended the purchase of the vaccine despite it not having completed clinical trials and ignored warnings from experts.

Renowned dengue expert Dr. Scott Halstead has warned the Philippine government against using Dengvaxia in a mass immunization program, but was not heeded.

Ejercito also said Abad processed and approved funding for the immunization program without congressional approval “in amazing record time, and during a holiday period at that!”

He also hit Aquino for a “failure of leadership” in allowing Garin and Abad to purchase the vaccine without being more prudent and minimal oversight.

Senate Blue Ribbon committee chair Dick Gordon, in his report released Wednesday (April 11) recommended the filing of criminal and civil raps against Aquino, Abad, Garin, Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur and several government doctors over the controversial vaccine.

Gordon also recommended the filing of a class suit against Sanofi Pasteur, a suggestion agreed to by Ejercito, who also called on the government to provide assistance to the possible legal action against the French pharmaceutical company.

“Legal action should also be taken by the Philippine government against SANOFI towards the establishment of an indemnity fund for children who were vaccinated to provide them with financial assistance for medical care throughout their lifetimes,” Ejercito said.