Ex-President Aquino Not Off The Hook Over Dengvaxia Controversy

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin and nine other former and current health government officials were charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad are not completely free from prosecution over the Dengvaxia controversy linked to the deaths of several children, the Philippine palace said.

The Philippine Star reported presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo as saying that Aquino and Abad were accused of technical malversation, different from the charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against former Health Secretary Janette Garin and nine other former and current health government officials.

“There’s a separate case on that…With regard to the purchases, they (Aquino and Abad) were charged with technical malversation in another case so they are still part of it,” Panelo was quoted saying yesterday.

He reportedly said it was up to state prosecutors to determine if there was probable cause to charge Aquino and Abad.

“If they found probable cause and evidence, then that’s the job now of the trial court,” the presidential spokesman was quoted saying.

The Justice Department has reportedly charged officials from the Health Department and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide over the dengue vaccine that has been blamed for the deaths of more than 30 children.

CNN reported Senate Blue Ribbon committee chair Richard “Dick” Gordon as saying that the Justice Department should also prosecute Aquino and Abad.

He also reportedly said there was not enough evidence for the Justice Department to charge Garin and other officials because of insufficient proof linking Dengvaxia to the deaths of children who received the vaccine.

The Philippines banned Dengvaxia last month since the controversy. The vaccine was reportedly given to over 800,000 schoolchildren before Sanofi acknowledged that it could cause “severe disease” among those who had not previously been infected with dengue fever.

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