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Aquino, two others, liable for vaccine fiasco—solons

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III would likely be held liable due to his failure to observe proper command responsibility in the procurement of P3.5-billion worth of Dengvaxia vaccine, Senator JV Ejercito said Sunday.

“But maybe only negligence because the case needs due diligence,” he said.

Ejercito made his statement even as Rep. Johnny Pimentel, chairman of the House committee on good government, said the officials responsible for the dengue vaccine mess were bound to face graft charges.

“The hustled purchase of P3.5-billion worth of Dengvaxia shots in 2015 may be considered highly detrimental to the government,” Pimentel said.

Ejercito said those who had greater culpability were the underlings, the secretaries because they should have done due diligence

But Ejercito, chairman of the Senate health committee, admitted that the Aquino administration made the “rushed” procurement of the dengue vaccine in “good faith.”

Ejercito said the allotment of P3.5 billion for the vaccination program without Congress’ nod was still questionable.

He also said the Senate committee on health may also conduct a separate inquiry into the vaccination program, focusing mainly on the health aspects.

“It is possible there can be a hearing on the health aspect to give a chance on health experts on moving forward on what to do,” he said.

“My concern here is the 800,000 parents who were anxious because their children were vaccinated. It is our duty to inform the public, especially those parents of the 800,000 [children], on the developments,” Ejercito said.

The House committees on good government and public accountability and health are also conducting investigations into the vaccination program.

Ejercito also said former Health secretary Janette Garin and former Budget secretary Florencio Abad may be charged with technical malversation for their involvement in the P3.5-billion procurement of the Dengvaxia vaccine.

He said the amount used for the vaccination program was not part of the General Appropriations Act for 2015. It was also revealed in the joint hearing of the Senate blue ribbon and health committees that the funding for the vaccination program was sourced from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund and Pension Gratuity Fund savings.

Under the Revised Penal Code, technical malversation is committed by a public official if he or she applies public funds under the administration to some public use, and that the funds were applied in a different purpose under which is originally appropriated by law.

Topics: Noynoy Aquino , vaccine , dengue virus
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