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DOJ, PAO settle conflict of interest on Dengvaxia cases

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
DOJ, PAO settle conflict of interest on Dengvaxia cases
In a joint statement over the weekend, both the DOJ and PAO dismissed conflict of interest in the preliminary investigation on Dengvaxia deaths, saying they were “one in seeking justice.”
Edd Gumban / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) have agreed to rule out any conflict of interest in prosecuting the cases filed before the Quezon City regional trial court involving the deaths of several children after reportedly being vaccinated with Dengvaxia.

In a joint statement over the weekend, both the DOJ and PAO dismissed conflict of interest in the preliminary investigation on Dengvaxia deaths, saying they were “one in seeking justice.”

Earlier, PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta accused the DOJ National Prosecution Service of conflict of interest after Justice Undersecretary Jesse Hermogenes Andres, who used to represent former health secretary Janette Garin, was designated to supervise the NPS.

Garin was among the respondents in the Dengvaxia cases pending before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 133.

“The DOJ reassures PAO, the parties to the Dengvaxia cases and the general public that there has never been and never will be any conflict of interest in the resolution of the cases,” the statement read.

Both offices also ruled out conflict of interest on appeals, which may be brought before the office of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla.

Heeding the call of the families of the victims who raised concerns over conflict of interest in the cases, Acosta earlier asked the DOJ to withdraw from the prosecution panel and allow PAO lawyers to take over the prosecution of the complaints.

The DOJ rejected the call, saying what Acosta was demanding was contrary to law and outside the mandate of PAO.

“To be clear, the supervision of the prosecution of the criminal case rests with the DOJ panel and there is neither factual nor legal basis to replace the prosecutors or transfer the cases to the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office,” the joint statement said.

“The DOJ and PAO will guard against being swayed by undue accusations coming from its clients. There is no place for undue influence coming from litigants in the legal process. Observance of this advice will further preserve the integrity of the resolution that will be issued by the DOJ panel,” it added.

The PAO represents relatives of children whose deaths were allegedly caused by the anti-dengue vaccine following the vaccination program using the Dengvaxia shots produced by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.

Cases that have been filed before the Quezon City regional trial court are being prosecuted by prosecutors from the NPS.

As of Nov. 11, a total of 157 Dengvaxia cases had been filed before the Quezon City court and 24 complaints had been dismissed.

DOJ

PAO

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