House taps P1.16b for vaccine victims
A HOUSE resolution seeks to use the P1.16-billion refund from Sanofi Pasteur to treat and hospitalize children who become sick as a result of receiving the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
Under the House resolution, the entire Sanofi refund would be used to monitor and care for the more than 870,000 children inoculated with the vaccine, which can cause severe cases of dengue among those who have not been infected by the virus before.
“This is a special appropriations measure, since right now, without the express authorization of Congress, the Sanofi refund is idle,” said Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel.
The French pharmaceutical company agreed to refund the Philippines for the unused vaccines, after Health officials suspended the mass vaccination program because of the health risks it posed.
The Department of Budget and Management had earlier called on the House to allocate the refund so that the Health department could use it to tend the vaccinated children.
Health officials said 65 children have died after receiving Dengvaxia shots.
Of the 65 mortalities, 13 were due to severe dengue infections, while the 52 others died of other causes.
Under the House joint resolution filed by Pimentel, the P1.16 billion will be used to pay for the hospitalization expenses (including reimbursement) in case of adverse effects following vaccination, including all in-patient checkup costs incurred, and outpatient medical examinations, including but not limited to diagnostic and confirmatory laboratory tests and medicines.
Relatives of children whose deaths may be linked to the Dengvaxia vaccine on Sunday supported Senator Richard Gordon’s finding that former President Benigno Aquino III bore some criminal liability for the inoculation of 830,000 schoolchildren.
Elvie Ligeralde, spokesperson for the National Federation of Dengvaxia Victims Organization, called on other parents and relatives of children who died of dengue after receiving shots of the Dengvaxia shots to support the Gordon report.
Gordon, the chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee, earlier lamented the cool reception that his report received from some of his colleagues in the Senate.
In the draft report, he recommended that Aquino, former Health secretary Janette Garin, former Budget secretary Florencio Abad and Philippine Children’s Medical Center executive director Julius Lecciones be held liable for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
“We hope the other senators will sign the report,” Ligeralde said.
Group members flocked to the Quezon Memorial Circle to dramatize their disappointment over the lack of support of some senators to file charges against the former president.
“We, as the leaders of the National Federation of Dengvaxia Victims Organization, strongly support the resolution of the Blue Ribbon committee about the Dengvaxia fiasco. The hearing was done fairly and objectively. We, the victims, demand justice. Let the facts and evidence speak for truth, and nothing but the truth,” Ligeralde said.
Those who joined the federation were the Parents Coalition Against Dengvaxia, Parents Alliance Against Dengvaxia and Dengvaxia Warriors.
“We support Gordon. We stand with the Public Attorney’s Office,” Ligeralde said.
Gordon on Sunday said he did not want to see Aquino jailed, but said he had to be held accountable for anomalies in the anti-dengue vaccination program.
“I don’t wish it that he be detained so it’s not plunder. I don’t want him to be jailed,” Gordon said in an interview Sunday over radio dzBB.
In his draft report, Gordon described Aquino as “insensitive and unconcerned” when he allowed the purchase if Dengvaxia from French giant drug firm Sanofi Pasteur and allowed the mass vaccination of almost one-million Filipinos although the vaccine was still at its experimental stage.
While Aquino did not pocket money from the controversial program, Gordon noted that his acts still suggest that he committed graft and corruption.
He said the “undue haste” in the approval and purchase of the vaccine created doubts.
“It was last two minutes for the administration, they released P3.5 billion when the Dengvaxia was still unripe. You did not take cautions in protecting the rights of the mothers, and their children,” further stated Gordon.
The senator said he was optimistic that a majority of senators will sign and approve his committee report.
“What I know is there were already 10 signatories. I think it’s easy to get the signatures of the majority,” he added.