The prosecutors, led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Emilia Victorio, also recommended the filing of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Dr. Gerardo Bayugo, Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, Dr. Irma Asuncion, Dr. Julius Lecciones, Dr. Maria Joyce Ducusin, Dr. Rosalinda Vianzon and Dr. Mario Baquilod of the DOH.
Ernie Peñaredondo
DOJ indicts Garin, 9 others for Dengvaxia deaths
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - March 2, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) panel of investigating prosecutors yesterday found probable cause to file eight counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against former Department of Health secretary Janette Garin and nine other current and former DOH officials for the alleged deaths of children linked to the Dengvaxia vaccine. 

The prosecutors, led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Emilia Victorio, also recommended the filing of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide against Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Dr. Gerardo Bayugo, Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, Dr. Irma Asuncion, Dr. Julius Lecciones, Dr. Maria Joyce Ducusin, Dr. Rosalinda Vianzon and Dr. Mario Baquilod of the DOH.

The 127-page resolution covers the investigation on some of the Dengvaxia-related complaints filed by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).

Aside from Garin and the nine DOH officials, the DOJ also recommended eight counts against Dr. Socorro Lupisan and Dr. Maria Rosario Capeding, both from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine; and Carlito Realuyo, Stanislas Camart, Jean Louis Grunwald, Jean Francois Vacherand, Conchita Santos and Jazel Anne Calvo from the Dengvaxia-manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. (SPI).

Meanwhile, four counts of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide were recommended against Ma. Lourdes Santiago and Melody Zamudio of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In a statement, the panel said it found “Garin and the other respondents to have exhibited ‘inexcusable lack of precaution and foresight’ when they facilitated, with undue haste, ‘the registration and purchase of Dengvaxia’ and used the vaccine in implementing a school-based dengue mass immunization program.”

It also said that Garin and the other respondents reportedly circumvented various regulations in the purchase of P3.5 billion worth of the anti-dengue vaccine that constituted proof of their reckless imprudence. 

The DOJ panel said that at the time of purchase, the Dengvaxia vaccine was reportedly not yet listed in the Philippine National Drug Formulary (PNDF). A purchase request for the vaccine was only made in March 2016. 

It was also learned that clinical trials for Dengvaxia were not yet completed when it was purchased and rolled out for use in the mass immunization program.

Despite the ongoing clinical trials, the FDA reportedly approved the vaccine’s registration.

Sanofi, on the other hand, reportedly submitted its application for the registration of Dengvaxia in January 2015. By December 2015, the FDA approved the marketing of Dengvaxia and issued its product registration, well before the completion of the two clinical trials.  

Thereafter, Garin and the other respondents allegedly fast-tracked its exemption from the PNDF-listing requirement, purchased the vaccines and used it to vaccinate school children through the government’s mass immunization program.

It added that Sanofi reportedly failed to monitor and did not conduct close surveillance of the Dengvaxia recipients, nor did it extend any medical assistance to the victims or their families even after reports of serious adverse reactions surfaced.

The DOJ panel also mentioned that if Garin and other respondents would be penalized, they could be imprisoned for six years.

Meanwhile, the criminal complaint against current Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and former officer-in-charge Herminigildo Valle have been dismissed.

The panel also dropped the complaint against Pearl Grace Cabali and Maria Ester Vanguardia-de Antoni of SPI.

Also dismissed were complaints filed against officers of the drug distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp. – Kasigod Jamias, Michael Becker, Ricardo Romulo, Imran Babar Chugtai, Raymund Azurin, Nilo Badiola, John Stokes Davidson, Marc Franck, Ashley Gerard Antonio, Ana Liza Peralta, Rosa Maria Chua, Danilo Cahoy, Manuel Concio III, Roland Goco and Ma. Visitacion Barreiro.

The panel also dismissed for insufficiency of evidence the complaint filed by Jeffrey Alimagno for violation of the Anti-Torture Act against all the respondents, as well as the obstruction of justice lodged against Duque. 

DOJ Undersecretary Mark Perete said that the Dengvaxia charges against Garin and others would be filed before the regional trial court. 

The cases would not be filed in a single court. “It will depend on the place where elements of the crime happened. There are several respondents and they have different omissions and different locations where these incidents happened,” Perete said.

Duque said yesterday that the dismissal by the DOJ of his three Dengvaxia-related cases is a “vindication of the grave injustice” committed against him and his family. 

According to Duque, he was not surprised over the decision as he knew from the very start that the complaints are “really malicious, full of dishonesty, fabricated and reeks of misinformation” and were just intended to drag him down. 

“I thank the DOJ for dismissing the complaints. This is a vindication of the grave injustice that chief Persida Acosta had caused on my person and my family. It caused me and my family sleepless nights and a great deal of emotional stress and anxiety,” he noted in an interview, referring to PAO chief.  – With Sheila Crisostomo, Rhodina Villanueva

 

JANETTE GARIN
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