DOJ, NBI filing cases vs PNoy et al affirms findings of Blue Ribbon Dengvaxia probe
Senate Blue Ribbon investigations produce results!
Senator Richard J. Gordon said the filing by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice of charges against former President Benigno Aquino III and the others confirm the Blue Ribbon Committee's findings that indeed Aquino, et al violated the procurement law and committed graft and corruption when they conspired with indecent haste to procure a drug which was not quite ready and imposed (foisted) it on our nation's children with disastrous results.
"We are glad that our investigation has produced results - charges are filed and new legislation to correct faulty procurement processes have been introduced. We are elated that the DOJ and the NBI are proceeding on our recommendations on the criminal cases that had to be filed," he said.
The Blue Ribbon, which Gordon heads, conducted an investigation into the anomalous procurement of Dengvaxia vaccines, which French manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur admitted last year, could produce severe dengue in recipients who had not yet been exposed to dengue prior to inoculation.
In the committee report that Gordon submitted, they found Aquino, former Health Secretary Janette Garin, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, PCMC Director Julius Lecciones and other officials of the Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration liable for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and other laws in connection with the procurement and distribution of the Dengvaxia vaccine.
"The message is that Department of Health (DOH) must act with extraordinary diligence before procuring vaccines unless they are adequately tested so as protect the public in general and particularly the nation's children. The DOH's decisions must be based on the Science and not on political and monetary rewards. What we were doing here was not political. DOH must be prevented from being co-opted politically ever again. DOH must remember that it is the protector of health of the nation," Gordon said,
In a letter to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales dated July 13, 2018, the NBI said there is technical malversation because government funds amounting to P3 billion intended for the 2015 Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF) of the Executive Department was utilized for the procurement of Dengvaxia under the DOH school-based immunization program. Although the source of fund was declared as savings by the Chief Executive, its intended purpose failed as there is no existing programs, activity or project for dengue procurement and immunization.
Aside from Aquino, named respondents in the case filed by the NBI were former Cabinet secretaries Janette Garin and Florencio Abad of the health and budget departments, respectively, and 19 current and former health officials found liable in the allegedly anomalous purchase of the vaccine.
The filing of charges was in line with the DOJ's findings following the creation of a panel of prosecutors tasked to investigate the case. Last year, the DOJ created a panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rossane Balauag to handle the complaints against Aquino and his co-respondents.