MANILA -- The controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia is responsible for the deaths of a number of children, Public Attorney's Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta said Wednesday.
Acosta made the remarks in response to the claims of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and former Health Secretary Janette Garin insisting that there has been no proof that the vaccine can cause deaths.
The PAO chief stressed that the deaths from Dengvaxia documented so far by their office were due to internal organ bleeding, edema and hemorrhages - which are adverse side effects of the vaccine as admitted by manufacturer Sanofi.
“The 60 Dengvaxia casualties we have examined had these adverse effects attributed to the vaccine - internal organ bleeding, edema and hemorrhages,” Acosta said.
“Dengvaxia has side effects as admitted by Sanofi (Dengvaxia maker Sanofi Pasteur) in December 2016 before the vaccine was bought -allergic anaphylactic reaction, viscerotropism, neurotropism and/ or severe dengue,” she explained.
She pointed out that the DOH has even declared 87 deaths possibly caused by the vaccine as of last month.
The PAO chief denied Aquino's allegation claiming that the Dengvaxia issue may have something to do with the midterm elections next year by "those who want to generate recall".
"I am not a politician but only a public servant since 1988 to present. I have not joined in any election in the past and I have no plan to run in the 2019 elections," she vowed.
She admitted that there is indeed panic among parents, but argued that this is an inevitable result of the Dengue vaccination program by the Aquino administration.
"Panic and hysteria are expected because most of the victims are poor and have no money for hospitalization. It is natural to cry when your child gets sick after getting vaccine or dies later on," she lamented.
Acosta, who filed separate criminal charges against Garin and other officials before the DOJ for parents of reported victims, stressed that such method prescribed by the WHO was not applicable to the first 57 cases that the PAO has documented.
Last Monday, Aquino, Garin and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad submitted their counter-affidavit each and sworn to before the DOJ panel, headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rossane Balauag with members, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Hazel Decena Valdez, Assistant State Prosecutors Consuelo Corazon Pazziuagan and Gino Paolo Santiago at the DOJ in response to the criminal complaint filed by newly appointed Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) lawyer Manuelito Luna and Eligio Mallari of the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Inc. (VPCI).
Aside from Aquino, Abad and Garin, also named as respondents were DOH undersecretaries Dr. Carol Tanio, Gerardo Bayugo, Lilibeth David and Mario Villaverde; and assistant secretaries Lyndon Lee Suy and Nestor Santiago were also present take their oaths and submitted their counter-affidavits.
Others named were the health department's Financial Management Service director Laureano Cruz; directors Dr. Joyce Ducusin, Dr. May Wynn Belo, Dr. Leonila Gorgolon, Dr. Rio Magpantay, Dr. Ariel Valencia and Dr. Julius Lecciones; retired health undersecretaries Dr. Nemesio Gako, Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., and Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go; and Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, who served as Garin's head executive assistant.
During Monday’s hearing, Balauag told the complainants to submit on June 22 at 10 a.m. its reply to the counter-affidavits submitted by the respondents and also ordered to present their witness.
The VACC and VPCI filed the complaint against the three and several others for possible violation of Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); Section 65 of RA 9184 (Government Procurement, Reform Act); Article 220 (Technical Malversation) of the Revised Penal Code; Article 365 (Criminal Negligence) of the Revised Penal Code; and for other violations of the law. (PNA)