THE head of the Senate blue ribbon committee on Tuesday warned the public against efforts by entities and personalities involved in the Dengvaxia mess to divert attention from the real issue by inciting conflict among health practitioners.
Sen. Richard Gordon issued the warning ahead of the resumption of the Senate inquiry on the controversy Wednesday.
The senator urged the public to focus on the real issues and the accountabilities of the personalities who pushed for the procurement and implementation of the anti-dengue immunization program using the Dengvaxia vaccine developed by France’s Sanofi Pasteur.
According to the blue ribbon panel chairman, Sanofi has enough resources it could use to manipulate issues and even make doctors turn against each other.
“Sanofi’s PR people have managed to make it a fight between doctors. That is not the fight we are talking about. I caution everybody to focus on the investigation and punish the right people,” he said.
On Tuesday, Philippine Children’s Medical Center Executive Director Julius Lecciones and Health Assistant
Secretary Lyndon Lee Suy filed separate libel complaints against Francisco Cruz, a former consultant of the Department of Health (DoH).
Lee Suy was one of 18 incumbent and ex-officials of the DoH whom Cruz named as having allegedly benefited from the P3.5-billion Dengvaxia deal.
Cruz accused several health officials of being members of a so-called “DoH mafia” and testified before the Senate blue ribbon committee that some health officials colluded and conspired to commit acts detrimental to the Filipino people.
Lee Suy, in his complaint, denied Cruz’s allegations, branding them as “malicious, baseless, unfounded, fabricated and fake news.”
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) viewed the filing of the complaint against Cruz as a clear sign of guilt on the part of the complainants.
Dante Jimenez, chairman of the VACC, at the same time assured Cruz that the organization was ready to provide all the legal assistance he would need.
“These are all part of their defense mechanism, It show guilt in being part of these scandalous deal,” Jimenez added. “We are ready to face them in court.”
Gordon said that while the blue ribbon committee remained focused in seeking accountability from top to bottom, the health of people, mostly children, who were administered with the vaccine was still paramount.
The senator said cases should be filed against officials who, in manipulating the procurement and rollout of the vaccine, may have violated laws and rules.
He cited as example the Certificate of Product Registration issued by the Food and Drug Administration, saying that Dengvaxia is a prescription drug and yet it was used on a massive scale, without prior consultation with and prescription from a doctor.
“The issue has put a bad name to vaccination, triggering a vaccine scare. The DoH should allay this fear and restore public trust and confidence in the government’s public health programs,” he said.