Health chief’s confirmation deferred


SENATE Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd is urging Health Secretary Francisco Duque to “set his foot down” on the investigation into the Dengvaxia scandal as the lawmaker questioned the forensic study being conducted by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on the bodies of the alleged victims of the dengue vaccine.

GRILLED Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd answers a question during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday. Duque’s confirmation was deferred. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

Sotto made the recommendation on Wednesday as Duque faced the powerful Commission on Appointments to tackle his interim appointment.

The commission, however, opted to suspend deliberations on the Duque’s appointment since its members wanted to grill him more on his programs on how to address the Dengvaxia controversy.

Duque announced that the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) Dengvaxia immunization task force would come out with its report on Friday. “And like you we await the report of the UP-PGH Dengvaxia immunization task force and we will share the report and it’s going to be transparent.”

Sotto then asked Duque if the PAO had become a “medical group.”

The last time I heard, the PAO is under the DoJ (Department of Justice), not the DoH (Department of Health). So, if we want to build a solid case, like what you mentioned, we charge you to set your foot down,” Sotto told Duque.

“If you’re going to be the secretary of health, set your foot [down]and let the DoH lead the scientific investigation,” Sotto said.

“We welcome the very sound recommendation of the Senate majority floor leader and we will do exactly that,” said Duque.

“Again, our view is that the UP-PGH has the expertise, the credibility to be able to make a very objective and sound science-based report on the records and clinical charts of the exhumed bodies,” Duque said.


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