MANILA - The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) on Monday moved to include two doctors as respondents in the Dengvaxia complaints filed before the Department of Justice.
PAO Chief Persida Acosta asked the DOJ panel of prosecutors conducting the probe into the second batch of Dengvaxia complaints to determine possible liability of Dr. Raymundo Lo, former deputy executive director of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) and Dr. Sonia Gonzales, also of PCMC.
Acosta said Lo admitted during a House hearing that he authorized Gonzales to sign, on his behalf, the purchase request dated January 21, 2016 which ordered P3 billion worth of Dengvaxia vaccines, the drug alleged to have caused the deaths of more than a hundred children, based on PAO’s count.
PAO has filed 29 criminal complaints for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, torture, and violation of the Consumer Protection Act against former Health Secretary Janette Garin and other government officials, and officers of drug-maker Sanofi and distributor Zuellig Pharma over the deaths.
Current Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is himself facing complaints for obstruction of justice.
Lo, a pathologist, had disputed PAO’s conclusions in the House hearing and in his statement in support of Garin’s counter-affidavit. He questioned the procedure PAO forensics chief Dr. Erwin Erfe undertook to examine those who allegedly died due to Dengvaxia, saying an autopsy is not the correct methodology to establish that the controversial vaccine caused the deaths.
But Acosta rejected Lo’s findings.
“Tumetestigo siya wala naman siyang personal knowledge e sa mga patay na inautopsy ng PAO forensic doctors. Anong klase siyang testigo, lelecturan niya kaming lahat doon? Anong personal knowledge niya doon sa mga bangkay?” she said.
Acosta presented to the media a copy of the purchase request, the “missing link” she claimed, to piece together how the vaccines were eventually bought.
“Ito po yung missing document. Kasi bakit nagka-purchase order ng March 2016, nasaan yung purchase request?,” she said.
Acosta accused Lo of having “conflict of interest” in testifying as an expert witness when he was involved in the purchase of Dengvaxia.
“Yun pala, isa siya sa dapat na nakademanda dahil spearheader siya. Bumili siya. Ayan po. Kaya ito na, motion to implead, isama si Dr. Lo tsaka si Dra. Gonzales,” she said.
“Sorry po pero di sana malalaman namin to kung di po kayo nag-iingay nang kung anu-ano, wala naman kayong na-autopsy ni isa dun sa 103 na cadavers,” she added.
The DOJ panel on Monday took note of Acosta’s motion, as it terminated the probe into the second batch of complaints.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay said they will consider Acosta’s claims in determining probable cause whether or not to file criminal charges in court against the respondents.