PUBLIC ATTORNEY’S Office (PAO) Chief Persida V. Rueda-Acosta said her office has moved to block the submission of counter-affidavits by former health secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin on complaints in connection with deaths allegedly linked to the Dengvaxia vaccination.
Ms. Acosta told reporters this is so as not to delay the resolution of the cases. “Second batch na ito. Doon sa first batch of nine deaths, nine na namatay, nakapag-submit siya. So dito bakit kailangan pang hintayin ang sagot niya? So…pinapa-waive na namin ang karapatan niya dahil hindi niya in-appear-an itong hearing na ‘to,” she said of Ms. Garin’s non-appearance on Monday’s preliminary hearing by the Department of Justice (DoJ).
(This is the second batch. In the first batch of nine deaths, she was able to submit [her counter-affidavits]. So why do we have to wait for her answer? So we wanted to waive her right because she did not appear in this hearing).
Ms. Garin and 37 other respondents are supposed to file their counter affidavits on the second batch consisting of eight complaints. Only 23 of the respondents were able to submit their counter-affidavits.
But the others, including Ms. Garin were given by the DoJ panel until Nov. 5 to file their counter-affidavits.
In a text message to reporters, Ms. Garin’s legal counsel Jessie Andres said she has not been served any notice to appear before the DoJ or a copy of the new complaints. “She has not received any notice of hearing so it cannot be said that she was not present in any hearing. But we will immediately file the proper manifestation and ask the DoJ to furnish us a copy of the complaints,” he said.
Currently, the respondents, including Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. and distributor Zeullig Pharma Corporation, are facing a total of 17 complaints for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and for violations of the Anti-Torture Act and Consumer Act.
PAO is set to file 10 more cases on Oct. 30, when preliminary investigation into the first batch of nine cases is set to be concluded. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas