Criminal charges should be filed against former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and his budget and health secretaries for allegedly “hastening” the procurement process of the controversial P3 billion Dengvaxia vaccine, Senator Richard Gordon said Tuesday.
At the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon committee probe into the botched dengue immunization program which was rolled out during Aquino’s term in 2016, Gordon, chair of the panel, said it was evident that when Aquino met with Sanofi Pasteur officials, the process of the deal was speeded up.
“Kung hindi sinunod iyan somebody has to be held responsible. Who pushed the button? Who said gawin na natin ito? Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” he said.
“When you see the President of the Philippine meeting with Sanofi in Paris, are you not surprised that the timeline will be so fast? And when he met again on December 1, should we not be surprised na ang bilis lumabas ng SARO (special allotment release order),” Gordon added.
“Now how can you disabuse the mind of the blue ribbon committee that the people who pressed the button was no less than the president of the republic of the Philippines, his budget minister, his secretary of health and all the other people that went along the light because the president says so,” he added.
Gordon lamented that the alleged “disregard of the conditions and protocols” of the Aquino administration have “hurt the young people of this country.”
Aquino had already dismissed Gordon’s accusation that the procurement process for the anti-dengue vaccine was rushed.
Aside from Aquino, Gordon likewise pointed out that former Health Secretary Janette Garin as well as former Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad should be held responsible for the mess.
The senator said he might also consider holding accountable President Rodrigo Duterte’s first Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, who continued and expanded the program during her term.
Officials of the French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi should equally be liable, according to Gordon.
Current Health Secretary Francisco Duque III ordered the suspension of the vaccination when French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur bared in November 2017 that Dengvaxia could worsen symptoms of the disease for people who had not previously been infected by the virus.
The anti-dengue vaccine was administered to more than 830,000 children in areas with high incidences of dengue.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.