• Palace: Vaccine probe transparent

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    Malacañang has promised to release results of the “transparent” probe of the allegedly anomalous purchase of vaccines by resigned Health Secretary Enrique Ona.

    In a radio interview on Sunday, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Aquino administration observes principles of transparency.

    “Patuloy tayong sumusunod sa patakaran ng pagiging bukas at pagiging transparent. At sa takda pong panahon, kapag napapanahon nang maisiwalat o mailabas ang lahat ng mga kinakailangang malaman, isasagawa po ‘yan [We observe transparency at all times. I due time, we will make public the results of the investigation],” he added.

    President Benigno Aquino 3rd accepted on Friday the resignation of Ona, who went on leave more than a month ago, citing health reasons.

    But President Aquino later revealed that he wanted Ona to explain on why he went against a recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) to purchase a type of anti-pneumonia vaccine.

    The President then appointed Janette Garin as acting Health secretary.

    In a statement released after the controversy surfaced, Ona denied any wrongdoing and said the vaccine that the Department of Health opted for was cheaper than the one recommended by the WHO.

    He said at the time of the purchase, it was not yet clear which product was more effective.

    Last week, Ona submitted a sworn affidavit to the National Bureau of Investigation in connection with the allegedly anomalous purchase of P833-million worth of anti-pneumonia vaccines in 2012.

    In a 10-page affidavit, he insisted that he chose PCV 10 that was a lot cheaper than PCV 13, and there was nothing questionable about the purchase.

    “In the midst of the medical debate on which vaccine is more cost-effective, I, as the Secretary of Health, exercised my best judgment in deciding to procure PCV 10, instead of PCV 13. While I do not exactly recall the specific prices of each vaccine, I know that PCV 10 is substantially lower than PCV 13,” Ona said.

    He added that contrary to news reports, the purchase of PCV 13 was never endorsed by the WHO.

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