‘Aquino, Sanofi to blame for Dengvaxia’
FRENCH pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur and officials from the previous administration will be held accountable for the Dengvaxia mess, the chairman of the House committee on good government and public accountability said Tuesday.
In an interview on the ANC news channel, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said these recommendations would be in his panel’s committee report, which they plan to release on or before March 21, when Congress goes on a Holy Week break.
Pimentel’s panel ended its hearing on the Dengvaxia controversy on Tuesday, with former President Benigno Aquino III defending the anti-dengue vaccination program that was approved during his term.
“Of course, we will hold the people repsonsible for this fiasco. And the No.1 that will be held accountable will be Sanofi Pasteur,” Pimentel said.
He said the French company misrepresented its Dengvaxia vaccine when it failed to inform the Philippine government about the risks of the vaccine.
“If they had informed the Philippine government beforehand, probably the former officials or former administration would not push through with the purchase of Dengvaxia,” he said. “So I believe Sanofi should be held accountable for this. And and of course, the past administration officials, they will also be held accountable.”
Also on Tuesday, Dr. Erwin Erfe of the Public Attorney’s Office responded to criticism from Aquino and reminded him that it was he who helped in the forensic investigation of his father’s remains after he was assassinated in 2004.
In an interview over radio dzMM, Erfe said PAO tapped him to help in the forensic analysis in the assassination of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr.
“We were the ones who conducted the study. The former president knows it,” he said, adding “the [family] lawyer, [Rene] Saguisag, had been [closely] coordinating with us,” he said.
“We even submitted our report to the Supreme Court,” he added.
Erfe, also a lawyer, said Saguisag used to be his client.
“Why question me now?” he asked.
He was referring to the statement of Aquino questioning his credentials during a congressional inquiry into the P3.5-billion purchase of the Dengvaxia vaccine.
Aquino’s spokesman Abigail Valte, in her column, claimed Erfe’s certification as a forensics expert was from a “certification mill” in the United States of America.
“At first, I did not know that Aquino was attacking until I finally realized, it was me whom he was mentioning,” Erfe said.
He defended his academic credentials, saying he graduated at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila’s College of Medicine, and studied forensics at the University of the Philippines-Diliman in Quezon City.
According to Erfe, he is also a fellow at six forensic big organizations in the US and Europe, including the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute.
Valte referred to ACFEI as a “certification mill.”
But Erfe said that blogs online have been criticizing ACFEI, and that the former president was taking advantage of it to discredit him.
Meanwhile, the relatives of three children who died with symptoms of dengue after receiving the Dengvaxia vaccine said they also want Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to be held liable for continuing the anti-dengue immunization program.
In a GMA-7 television interview, PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said her refusal to cooperate with the Department of Health and to turn over the medico-legal findings of children fatalities autopsied by Erfe were based on the possible conflict of interest.
She said PAO cannot just turn over the autopsy findings to the Health department since “these belong to the parents.”
“In fact, parents of three children fatalities wanted to sue Duque. It was during Duque’s administration that these children were inoculated with the Dengvaxia vaccine. The mass vaccination even pushed through despite an inquiry into the P3.5-billion Dengvaxia procurement,” she said.