FORMER president Benigno Aquino 3rd said on Thursday that before and after he approved the purchase of the P3.5 billion worth Dengavaxia, “no one” informed him of any objection to the dengue vaccine.
Aquino stressed this point during Thursday’s resumption of the joint Senate Blue Ribbon and Health Committees investigation on the controversy.
Aquino’s former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and former budget secretary Florencio Abad were also present.
“Diin ko lang po: Bago nagdesisyon ang gobyerno sa Dengvaxia, habang nagdedesisyon, pagkatapos magdesisyon at hanggang sa ngayon, walang nagparating sa akin ng pagtutol sa bakuna (I must stress: Before, during, and after, and even until now, the government decided on Dengvaxia, no one told me about any objection to the vaccine),” Aquino said.
The former president said that he started to focus on the dengue problem after he received a memorandum from his former health secretary Enrique Ona on August 2010 that there had been a 1,409.5 percent or 14 times increase in dengue cases in Region 8, which was not as congested as Metro Manila or Cebu.
“Kaya natin inilunsad ito sa NCR, Calabarzon, at Central Luzon dahil ayon sa datos ng DoH (Department of Health), ito po ang tatlong pinaka-apektadong mga rehiyon nung 2015 kaugnay sa dengue,” he said.
(This is why we launched the program at the NCR, Calabarzon and Central Luzon because based on data by DoH, these are the three regions affected by dengue in 2015.)
“Ang nakakatakot dito: kung may 200,000 cases ng kada taon, at posibleng umangat ng 14 beses ang bilang, ang potential na magkasakit, 2.8 milyon (The scary part here is, if there are 200,000 cases every year and the number has a possibility to increase 14 times, the potential number of those who’ll get sick with dengue is 2.8 million),” Aquino said.
He added, “Yan po ang dami ng Pilipino na baka kailangan ng blood transfusion, na baka kailangang ipasok sa mga ospital, na baka kailangang suportahan ng gobyerno (That’s the possible number of Filipinos who’ll need blood transfusion, who should be sent to hospitals, who must be assisted by government).
Aquino confirmed that he indeed met with officials of Sanofi Pasteur, the Dengvaxia manufacturer, in Paris on December 2015 on the sidelines of the COP21 (Conference of Parties) climate change meeting.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee, said that the release of the budget for the vaccine was expedited after Aquino’s meeting with Sanofi officials.