MANILA -- Malacañang on Wednesday urged government agencies involved in investigating the implementation of the controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia to cooperate to resolve the case and find out which individuals could be held liable.
Opposition lawmakers earlier called on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to step in amid apparent conflict between two agencies, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), on the sharing of tissue samples of children who allegedly died after being vaccinated with Dengvaxia.
PAO chief Persida Acosta denied the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) Dengvaxia team of experts, which was formed by the DOH, access to the tissue samples.
Acosta said her agency refused to share the samples with the DOH insisting that there would be a “conflict” of interest” since some health officials could be charged.
“Ang panawagan nga po ay kinakailangan lahat magtulungan. Dahil hindi naman po puwede na ilang taong-gobyerno lang ang nais makapanilbihan sa taumbayan, hindi naman 'ata kapani-paniwala iyon (Our appeal is that all agencies cooperate. Because it cannot be that only some government officials want to serve the public, that won’t be believable),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a radio interview.
“Lahat talaga isinusulong ang interes ng publiko at kung meron naman silang reklamo na sa tingin nila ay may isang ahensiya na nagiging traydor sa ating publiko, 'di isumbong nila sa Palasyo (All of us push for public interest and if they have complaints about whether they feel like there is a certain agency that has been a traitor to the public, they can let the Palace know about it),” he added.
Roque pointed out the quarreling agencies would only give French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur satisfaction that the investigation is taking longer.
“Kaya habang nagbabangayan, siguro natutuwa iyong multinational company na iyan. So dapat kapit-bisig po tayo ngayon, dahil napakadami - 800,000 na mahigit ang mga magulang ang hindi makatulog ngayon, dahil hindi nila alam kung ano ang estado ng kanilang mga anak. Tulong-tulong po sana (While they quarrel, perhaps the multinational company is enjoying this. So we should join hands because there are many-800,000 children and their parents who can’t sleep now because they don’t know the state of their children. We should help each other),” Roque said.
“Inaasahan ng Palasyo lahat nagtutulungan, dahil matindi rin ang kalaban dito, isang (The Palace expects all agencies to cooperate because we have a strong enemy, a) multinational company,” he added.
Roque reiterated that Duterte’s mandate was to continue the probe until persons are held liable. However, while parties refused to cooperate, investigation would take longer.
“Dahil ang mandato ng Presidente imbestigahan nga. Paano naman matatapos ang imbestigasyon kung hindi nagtutulungan (It’s the mandate of the President to investigate. How can they end the investigation if they refuse to cooperate)?” Roque said.
“Hindi pupuwedeng mabalewala ang mga case na naririyan na galing man sa UP-PGH, galing man kay Dr. Erfe (The case should not result to nothing whether it’s from the UP-PGH, whether it’s from Dr. Erfe),” he added.
Medical experts and doctors have questioned Erfe's expertise in concluding that many of the children examined died after they were vaccinated. Acosta, however, defended Erfe, saying he had appropriate training to conduct a forensic examination on the children. (PNA)