By Vann Marlo M. Villegas
THE PUBLIC Attorney’s Office (PAO) is considering upgrading its Dengvaxia-related complaints from reckless imprudence resulting in homicide to murder, PAO Chief Persida V. Rueda-Acosta said on Monday.
“Pinag-aaralan po ng panel ng PAO, ng lawyers, na kung alam nila na nakamamatay ang Dengvaxia, aba’y hindi lang kapabayaan lang ito, ito po ay isang murder (PAO lawyers are looking into [the premise that] if they [those behind the inoculation program] know Dengvaxia can cause death, this is not just negligence, this is murder),” Ms. Acosta told reporters.
“Kaya pinag-aaralan po kung magmu-move po ang PAO special panel na mag-motion na mai-upgrade ang kaso from reckless imprudence resulting (in) multiple homicide sa murder po (That’s why this is being studied, if the PAO special panel will file a motion to upgrade the case from reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide to murder),” Ms. Acosta added.
She also noted that the vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. issued a declaration in 2015 stating the risks of the anti-dengue vaccine.
Former health secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin and 38 others are facing a total of 27 complaints for reckless deaths attributed to the Dengvaxia inoculation.
Also charged are government officials involved in the implementation of the mass vaccination program and Sanofi Pasteur as well as Dengvaxia distributor Zuellig Pharma Corporation.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III is also among those charged in two of the 10 complaints in the third batch which included the death of Senior Police Officer 2 Vicente Arugay, Jr. The cases against Mr. Duque include obstruction of justice.
“May isang linggo na ibinigay ako sa panel of lawyers, sa special lawyers natin para aralin mabuti kung sinu-sino sa tatlumpu’t walo, sa tatlumpu’t siyam ang dapat makasuhan ng murder dito (I have given the panel of lawyers, special lawyers, one week to study who among…the 39 accused should be charged with murder),” Ms. Acosta said.
The first batch of nine complaints is up for resolution at the Department of Justice (DoJ). Ms. Acosta said: “Magmo-motion ka lang for upgrading. Nando’n naman ‘yung mga dokumento na e. Di bahala prosecutors kung i-a-upgrade nila (You will just file a motion for upgrading. The documents are already there. It is up to the [DoJ] prosecutors if they will upgrade it).”
Ms. Garin has submitted her counter-affidavit on the second batch of complaints, claiming “there is absolutely no probable cause” to hold them for trial for reckless imprudence resulting and violation of the Anti-Torture Act.
Ms. Garin had said there were already plans for the implementation of the immunization program before she became health secretary, adding that the procurement of Dengvaxia “underwent a thorough process.”
“By no stretch of imagination can the children of complainants whose deaths are allegedly caused by the Dengue Vaccine be considered as persons placed under investigation or held in custody in order for the Anti-Torture Act to apply,” Ms. Garin said in her counter-affidavit.
She added, “The instant complaint must therefore be dismissed for lack of probable cause, for insufficiency of evidence to support the allegations, and for lack of merit.”
By Vann Marlo M. Villegas