Parents of 100 school children whose deaths are linked to the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine on Tuesday testified under oath before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office prior to the filing of the new cases of torture, and reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and serious physical injuries with the Department of Justice against ex-health secretary Janette Garin and other former and active government officials.
The victims’ kin from Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon and the Visayas flocked to the prosecutor’s office at the Department of Justice building inside the Quezon City hall premises to swear under oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” stated in their complaint-affidavits.
Sumachen Dominguez, Samahan ng mga Magulang Anak at Biktima ng Dengvaxia president, testified that she is voluntarily filing a case of reckless imprudence resulting in serious physical injuries against Garin; former and incumbent officials of the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and executives of Sanofi Pasteur Inc., the manufacturer of the Dengvaxia vaccine, and its distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp.
The 99 complainants also testified that they were not forced by anyone to execute their complaint-affidavits against Garin, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, PCMC executive director Julius Lecciones and the other 36 respondents.
Duque would also face a case of obstruction of justice for not making available the complete lists of the names of the school children who were inoculated with the Dengvaxia vaccine, the Public Attorney’s Office said.
At a media briefing at the new Quezon City Hall of Justice, Dominguez welcomed the October order of the Supreme Court directing the
designation of a family court to handle and litigate all Dengvaxia cases, and the Nov. 18 omnibus orders of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 107 setting the arraignment of Garin and her co-accused in the reckless imprudence resulting in homicide charges filed by the parents of Marc-Axl Eboña and Zandro Colite.
PAO chief Persida Acosta said Garin posted a P30,000 bail for the charges before an Iloilo court.
“We have already received a copy of her bail bond. Why post a bail if you don’t have an arrest warrant?” she asked.
She urged the DOJ state prosecutors to “admit and correct their mistakes” when they filed the criminal charges before the metropolitan and municipal trial courts, when they dismissed the anti-torture law violation against all of the accused and when they absolved Duque of any culpability.
“Torture does not only apply on a detained person (being abused), a person under investigation or the accused, but there is a law of anti-torture among children,” she said.
“A torture case is non-bailable,” she added.
The Department of Health, through the PCMC, spent P3 billion of P3.5 billion for a mass vaccination of schoolchildren in 2016 against dengue.
In November 2017, Sanofi, in an official statement posted on its website, said "the analysis confirmed that Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefit against dengue fever in those who had prior infection. For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however, the analysis found that in the longer term, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection.”