News TOP

News Detail

Malacañang allays Aquino’s fears over Dengvaxia mess



Malacañang on Tuesday allayed the fears raised by former president Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino III that he could suffer the same fate as detained Senator Leila de Lima amid the ongoing probe into the PHP3.5-billion Dengvaxia vaccine controversy.

Aquino, after attending the preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, said he could not help but think that he could also go to jail.

De Lima is currently detained in Camp Crame, Quezon City for her alleged involvement in the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison during her stint as justice secretary.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, reassured Aquino that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will await the findings of the three-man panel of foreign experts he has tasked to study the vaccine.

“The President has been very laid back on the issue of Dengvaxia. He has made it clear that he is awaiting the findings of a group of foreign experts. He is not swayed either way by anyone’s opinion because so far, all the experts’ opinions contradict each other,” Roque said in a press briefing in Seoul, South Korea.

“I think the former president should give credit to President Duterte because he could have made this into a political witch hunt and he did not,” he added.

Roque earlier noted that Duterte himself had said that he understood why Aquino and the health officials during his term opted to implement the dengue vaccine.

“The President has taken a very calm, very rational approach to this. He has made a declaration that he understands why the previous administration decided to use Dengvaxia, having been a victim of dengue himself,” he said.

Roque said that Duterte will trust the opinion of the three-man expert panel so that the nation would be able to “move on” from the issue of Dengvaxia once and for all.

In November 2017, Sanofi issued a global advisory warning of the risks of administering Dengvaxia to persons with no history of dengue.

This announcement led to a series of congressional investigations into the role of officials during the Aquino administration, which began administering the vaccine to thousands of children in 2016.

Cases have been filed against former health secretary Janette Garin, incumbent Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and other former and incumbent health officials in connection with the Dengvaxia mess.

Azer Parrocha / PNA