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Govt has enough funds to aid Dengvaxia victims – Legarda

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Government has more than enough funds to shoulder the needs of the so-called Dengvaxia victims, Sen. Loren Legarda on Sunday said.

Legarda made the assurance eve as Congress failed to approve, just in time for its sine die adjournment last Thursday morning, the P1.16 billion supplemental budget for the medical assistance of those administered with the anti-dengue vaccine.

Legarda, chair of the Senate finance committee, will attempt anew to make a fast break and have the measure passed when Congress opens its third regular sessions in July.

If efforts will prove to be futile, Legarda said the government can tap the Department of Health’s (DOH) contingency fund or that of Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

“Siguradong may budget whether under PhilHealth or DOH. Kahit mag expire ang pondong ito (supplemental budget) para cover pa rin sila, the expiration of this fund is a couple of years. But I will look into the possibility na covered lahat sila kasi the effect (of Dengvaxia) might come much later,” the senator said.

“Philhealth is a corporation so we will find out if from their existing funds or special allocation. Itong pondong ito (P1.16 billion) is more than enough to cover to shoulder the victims,” Legarda added.

The Senate, early Thursday morning, failed to approve the said money measure due to lack of quorum.

“Napakalaki ng pondo ng gobyerno. May pondo ang DOH. Government should never be helpless in helping the people. Kaya hihilingin ko kay (Health Sec. (Francisco) Duque, sana po nakikinig sya, hihilingin ko po na,tulungan na ngayon, I’m sure may contingency funds, marami pong pondo. Sana lang ayon sa COA (Commission on Audit) rules and regulations dahil itoy nakalaaan talaga para sa Dengvaxia victims. So we will find a way. The worst scenario is they will be helped first third week of July, the best scenario is they can be helped right away. We will find a way,” Legarda said.

Following the outbreak of deaths linked to the exposure of victims to the Dengvaxia vaccine, the DOH issued a demand letter to the manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur for the refund of unused vials of the anti-dengue vaccine, which was subsequently complied with by on 19 January 2018, paying off P1.16 billion to Philippine Children Medical Center (PCMC).

The refund was then transferred by PCMC to DOH which, in turn, remitted the fund to the Bureau of the Treasury on 26 January 2018.

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