MALACAÑANG has assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte would give the Senate report on the Dengvaxia controversy “much weight” in terms of crafting the government’s future course of action.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte would also wait for the findings of the investigation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the discredited anti-dengue mass vaccination program of the Aquino administration.
“That’s a report created by a powerful committee of a co-equal branch of government that will be given much weight by the Executive when it decides its next course of action on the issue,” Roque said.
“The President though is still waiting for the report of the NBI on the matter,” the Palace official added.
The draft report released by the Senate blue ribbon panel found that the procurement of P3.5-billion worth of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia was done with “undue haste.”
The committee also emphasized in its report that former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, former Health chief Janette Garin, and former Budget secretary Florencio Abad were “primary conspirators” in the purchase of Dengvaxia.
“Aquino, Garin, Abad, and other officials are primary conspirators and must be held criminally liable… and must be prosecuted for all the tragedy, damage and possible deaths resulting from the Dengvaxia mass vaccination program,” the Senate Blue Ribbon chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, told a news conference on Wednesday, April 11.
About 830,000 individuals, mostly schoolchildren, received the vaccine before Health Secretary Francisco Duque suspended the immunization program on December 1, 2017.
The program was suspended shortly after the release of new findings by Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur that the vaccine could cause severe dengue in seronegative individuals, or those who have not contracted the disease prior to vaccination.
Duterte has kept his distance from the issue and instead directed the NBI to finish its investigation and find out who must be held criminally accountable.
In December 2017, the Department of Justice ordered the NBI to conduct an investigation and case build-up on the controversial anti-dengue vaccination program.
On Friday, the Department of Health reported that 3,281 cases patients have been hospitalized after receiving the anti-dengue vaccine. Out of the 3,281 cases, 1,967 were found to be dengue .