PUBLIC Attorneys’ Office (PAO) Chief Persida V. Rueda-Acosta said it was President Rodrigo R. Duterte who recommended to upgrade to murder the complaints in connection with deaths attributed to the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine.
She told reporters after a hearing Thursday on the second batch of eight complaints that a “confidential meeting” was held in February where they presented the pieces of evidence found by PAO. Among those present in the meeting were members of the the Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption, former justice secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II and PAO forensic chief Erwin P. Erfe.
“(H)indi ordinary reckless imprudence resulting (in) multiple homicide lang ito. Ito talaga ay murder. Tama po ang payo sa akin ng isa nating pinakamataas na opisyal ng pamahalaan. Murder itong kaso dapat dito (This is not an ordinary reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide complaint case. This is murder. The advice one of the highest goverment officials to me is right. This case is murder),” she said.
Asked which government official told her, Ms. Acosta said: “Si Pangulong Duterte. Sabi niya sa akin dapat murder, e wala pa naman kaming kopya nung mga dokumento (President Duterte told me. He said that murder should have been filed, but we do not have the documents yet).”
“(W)ala pa kaming complete documents nung natanggap ko ‘yon. Naisampa na namin ‘yung first batch, reckless imprudence lang ‘yung ebidensyang hawak namin. (We don’t have the complete documents when we received that. We have filed the first batch, we only have evidence for reckless imprudence),” she added.
Ms. Acosta previously said that PAO is reviewing to upgrade the Dengvaxia complaints from reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide to murder, as the Department of Health still pushed for the implementation of the mass Dengvaxia vaccination despite knowledge of its possible “serious adverse effects.”
However, she said they will put on hold the motion to upgrade the cases to murder as they still have to wait for the prosecution’s resolution on the first batch of nine complaints, of which preliminary investigation ended last Oct. 30.
Two additional complaints over the Dengvaxia mess were filed before the Department of Justice, bringing the total number of pending cases to 29.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III is included in the new complaints.
Former health secretary Janette P. Loreto Garin and 36 others are facing 29 complaints over reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and violation of the Anti-Torture Act and The Consumer Act of the Philippines due to the deaths allegedly because of Dengvaxia.
Included in the complaints are government officials involved in the implementation of the mass Dengvaxia vaccination, manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corporation. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas