Malacañang on Monday urged the Public Attorneys Office to file charges and “substantiate” its allegation that the government had been bribing Dengvaxia victims to keep mum about the controversy.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the remarks after PAO chief Persida Rueda Acosta claimed that the Department of Health offered money to Dengvaxia patients, urging them to drop their charges against government officials.
In an interview with dzMM, Acosta accused Health chief Francisco Duque III of paying each family P50,000 to ensure that the case would just be dropped.
“That’s a serious charge. She should substantiate that,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
Asked if the Palace would initiate an investigation on the issue, Panelo said Acosta should be the one to file the appropriate charges if she deemed it true.
“That is just an allegation, so we cannot just be poking into every allegation of every person or citizen of this country. If they have evidence against particular public official, then sue them and let due process run its course,” Panelo stressed.
On Thursday, the PAO filed a criminal complaint anew before the Department of Justice against Duque and former Health Secretary Janette Garin.
According to PAO, Norma Gotoc reached out to their office about the death of her son Dr. Kendrick Gotoc.
“Complainant highly suspects Dr. Kendrick’s death is related to his inoculation with Dengvaxia, prompting them to seek assistance from the Public Attorney’s Office,” the complaint said.
The young Gotoc, who passed away at the age of 39 last April 2018, managed to tell his mother that he received shots of the vaccine three times.
Under the complaint, the respondents are accused of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and violations of the Anti-Torture Act and Consumer Act
Gotoc’s complaint is the 31st case filed before the DOJ about the Dengvaxia controversy. Three preliminary investigations are pending before the agency involving deaths of schoolchildren and one police officer.
In 2016, the Philippines became the first country in the world to launch a large-scale anti-dengue program with a newly-invented drug called Dengvaxia.
However, French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur, the local distributor of Dengvaxia, admitted a year later that children who haven’t had dengue but were given Dengvaxia shots are more prone to have a severe case and hospitalization up to the fifth year after immunization.