Aquino, Abad, Garin must be held liable for Dengvaxia mess : Gordon
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Senator Richard Gordon said Wednesday that former president Benigno Aquino III, former health secretary Janette Garin, and former budget secretary Florencio Abad should be charged over the botched PHP3.5-billion Dengvaxia vaccine program.
“Aquino, Garin, Abad and other officials are primary conspirators and must be held criminally liable because as succinctly put by the Old Spanish legal maxim ‘El que es causa dela causa, es causa del mal causado’ — he who is the cause of the cause, is the cause of the evil caused — and must be prosecuted for all the tragedy, damage and possible deaths resulting from the Dengvaxia mass vaccination program,” Gordon said in a press briefing at the Senate.
Reading the draft report of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Gordon said that Aquino, Garin, Abad, and other government officials implemented the Dengvaxia program with “undue haste” and should be investigated and prosecuted for graft and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
“Aquino is responsible because he had caused the purchase of Dengvaxia and in the process caused irreversible damage, possibly death to children; anxiety, sleepless nights, mental anguish and unnecessary expense on the part of parents and guardians,” Gordon said.
He said that Garin and other officials could not possibly have been able to release money through a special allotment release order (SARO) and notice of cash allocation (NCA) without the participation and approval of Aquino and Abad, who realigned the savings from the miscellaneous personal benefits fund.
Abad also committed technical malversation for programming funding to an activity that was not appropriated a budget by Congress, Gordon said.
“Garin on her own could not release a SARO or NCA. It was within Aquino’s exclusive control and therefore needed unqualified imprimatur from him,” he said.
He said that Aquino’s meetings with Sanofi Pasteur executives in Beijing and France projected “inordinate interest”, such that the approval process became faster after every meeting was held.
Gordon also accused Aquino of not exercising utmost diligence in procuring the drug.
“In procuring the drug, the President did not bother to ask his subordinates, his researchers, various experts or even check the internet if the vaccine is safe, efficacious and ethical,” he said.
“Aquino deliberately refused to heed the warnings that were given out by experts as to its danger. He did not listen or pay attention to those who really knew how long the ill-effects would be,” he added.
The draft report also said that Aquino and his former officials are liable for human rights abuse and discrimination against the poor.
“He put lives at risk and peril by allowing sero-negative children to be vaccinated and his cohorts Garin et. al. committed grave human rights abuse by violating the right to informed consent, and without informing them fully of the danger of the experimental drug,” Gordon said.
“When Aquino and Garin went on to conduct mass vaccinations they thereby discriminated against, accorded less care and displayed lack of affection for the poor because the impoverished had no choice but to avail themselves of free injections performed mostly by non-doctors with neither the time nor capacity to skillfully conduct post-injection monitoring,” he said.
He said all the acts committed by Aquino and his former aides constitute malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance “all in the name of politics.”
“He placed premium on political gains or even greed over the lives of innocent children. The greatest sin of Aquino was putting the lives of Filipino children in grave peril. He simply did not care,” Gordon said.
“They and their ilk wronged the poor and suffering Filipinos for the sake of political expediency and greed. One need not be a lawyer or a college graduate to conclude that indeed a grave social injustice was committed here,” he said.
The chair of the Blue Ribbon committee said the report will be circulated to committee members for signing and would be presented to plenary when Congress resumes sessions on May 15. (PNA)