Aquino et al. face Dengvaxia probe; PAO sues Duque
THE Justice department said Friday it will summon former president Benigno Aquino III, two former Cabinet officials, and several former and incumbent Health officials to a preliminary investigation next month on the complaint filed by two anti-crime advocacy groups in connection with the Dengvaxia vaccination program.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rossane Balauag, who led the DOJ panel of prosecutors assigned to handle the complaint, said they will issue subpoenas to Aquino and 44 other respondents to appear on May 15 for the preliminary investigation.
The investigation is over the criminal complaint filed by newly-appointed Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption lawyer Manuelito Luna and Eligio Mallari of the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc.
“We will be issuing a subpoena to all the respondents in the complaint to appear on May 15,” Balauag said.
Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo said Friday the World Health Organization’s recent update on the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia “strengthens” the Health department’s decision to stop its nationwide dengue immunization program.
As this developed, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III responded to a suit filed by Public Attorney’s Office Chief Persida Acosta against him before the Justice department.
He said the Dengvaxia vaccination was initiated in March 2016 during the term of former Secretary Janette Garin for school-based vaccination, and was expanded in July 2017 during the term of Secretary Paulyn Ubial to include community-based vaccination.
The VACC and VPCI filed the complaint against respondents for alleged graft.
During the hearing at the Justice department, the complainants submitted voluminous documentary evidence that they said they intended to use in the case, including a transcript of the public hearing by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee.
VACC lawyer Manuelito Luna also said he had been appointed as commissioner to the Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission and he would assume the position in 10 days.
Luna said he would remain a complainant in the case.
Former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong will take over Luna’s place as VACC lawyer in the case.
Besides Aquino, also named respondents in the case were former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, former Health Secretary Janette Garin and Undersecretaries Carol Tanio, Gerardo Bayugo, Lilibeth David and Mario Villaverde, Assistant Secretaries Lyndon Lee Suy and Nestor Santiago.