DOJ set to release Dengvaxia probe results

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star
DOJ set to release Dengvaxia probe results
The Department of Justice (DOJ) officially concluded its preliminary investigation of the first batch of Dengvaxia cases in a final hearing last Tuesday.
Edd Gumban / File

MANILA, Philippines — Families of schoolchildren who died allegedly due to the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine may soon find an answer to their cry for justice.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) officially concluded its preliminary investigation of the first batch of Dengvaxia cases in a final hearing last Tuesday.

The DOJ panel, chaired by Assistant State Prosecutor Maria Emilia Victorio, submitted the case for decision and said they will try to come up with the resolution within this month.

The resolution will determine whether or not there exists probable cause to indict the respondents, led by former health secretary Janette Garin, on the charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and violations of Anti-Torture Act and Consumer Act filed by the families of nine victims.

The first batch of Dengvaxia cases, filed in April and May, involved the deaths of Aejay Bautista, Angelica Pestilos, Lenard Baldonado, Zandro Colite, Abbie Hedia, Jansyn Bataan, Mark Axel Ebonia, Rey Justin Almagno and Alexander Jaime. 

The other respondents are current and former DOH officials Vicente Belizario Jr., Kenneth Hartigan-Go, Gerardo Bayugo, Lyndon Lee Suy, Irma Asuncion, Julius Lecciones, Joyce Ducusin, Rosalind Vianzon and Mario Baquilod, along with doctors Socorro Lupisan and Maria Rosario Capeding of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Incumbent DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III was included in the charge sheet since in two cases, the victims got their Dengvaxia shots during his term.

The executives of manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur named in the complaints are Carlito Realuyo, Sanislas Camart, Jean Louis Grunwald, Jean-Francois Vacherand, Conchita Santos, Jazel Anne Calvo, Pearl Grace Cabali and Marie Esther de Antoni.

The officers of distributor Zuellig Pharma in the charge sheet, on the other hand, are Kasigod Jamias, Michael Becker, Ricardo Romulo, Imran Babar Chugtai, Raymund Azurin, Nilo Badiola, John Stokes Davison, Marc Franck, Ashley Gerard Antonio, Ana Liza Peralta, Rosa Maria Chua, Danilo Cahoy, Manuel Concio III, Roland Goco and Ma. Visitacion Barreiro.  

Garin and other respondents denied the criminal charges, arguing they could not be held liable since it was not factually established that the deaths were indeed caused by Dengvaxia vaccine.

Two more batches of cases involving 18 other deaths are undergoing separate preliminary investigation before the DOJ.

The Public Attorney’s Office has so far documented 96 deaths allegedly caused by Dengvaxia, which was reportedly administered to over 800,000 schoolchildren nationwide during the anti-dengue immunization program in the previous administration.  

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