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PCMC execs quizzed in ‘vaccine’ probe

The Department of Justice has summoned two executives of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center to appear before the hearings on Friday, Dec. 14 and on Dec. 28, in connection with the complaint filed by families of eight children who died after being inoculated with the anti-dengue vaccine.

Required to attend the hearings were Dr. Raymundo Lo, former deputy executive director for professional services of the PCMC and another PCMC executive, Dr. Sonia Gonzales, whom Public Attorney’s Office chief, Persida Rueda Acosta accused of facilitating the purchase of the anti-dengue vaccine used by the government in 2016 for its mass vaccination program supposedly to eradicate dengue.

“Under and by virtue of the authority vested in us by law, you are hereby summoned to appear before the panel on Dec. 14, 2018 at 10a.m. at the Department of Justice, Padre Faura St. Ermita, Manila, and then and there, obtain/be duly furnished with copies of the subject complaints and supporting documents, and where you may examine all other evidence submitted by the complainants,” stated the subpoena signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay, the head of the prosecution panel.

The investigating fiscals also directed Lo and Gonzales to submit their respective counter-affidavits, as well as affidavits of their respective witnesses and supporting documents in the next hearing set for Dec. 28.

Last week, Lo and Gonzales were impleaded as additional respondents in the second batch of Dengvaxia-related complaints currently pending for resolution by the DOJ.

Acosta said the two facilitated the purchase of Dengvaxia even before the Food and Drug Administration has issued the certificate of product registration.

Acosta said that the two former PCMC officials “displayed grave recklessness, utter bad faith, lack of foresight, lack of skill, want of care, gross neglect and deliberate, arbitrary and even malicious disregard of the safety and lives of thousands of Filipino children.”

Last September, former Health Secretary Janette Garin presented Lo as an expert witness being a pathologist specializing in anatomic and clinical pathology to disprove the link between the anti-dengue vaccine and the deaths of the children.

However, the following month, the DOJ rejected the bid of Garin saying it was too late for her to do so.

The DOJ also said Garin failed to submit an explanation why Lo’s affidavit was submitted late.

Apart from the “very late submission” of Lo’s affidavit, the panel said a full-blown trial and not a preliminary investigation as what the panel is conducting, is the proper venue to discuss and thresh out the evidence of both parties in the criminal case filed against Garin and other former and current DOH officials and executives of Sanofi Pasteur and Zuellig Pharma, the local distributor of Dengvaxia, for the deaths of eight children included in the second batch of complaint.

The eight children whose deaths were included in the second batch of complaint against Garin and her co-accused are Clarissa Alcantara, Christine Mae De Guzman, Erico Leabres, Roshaine Cariño, Naomi Nimura, John Paul Rafael, Michael Tablate and Christine Joy Asuncion.

Including the first and third batch of cases, there are now 29 complaints filed against Garin before the DOJ.

Acosta earlier said they have documented 96 deaths connected to Dengvaxia so far.

In his testimony before the House committees on good government and public accountability and health, Lo disputed the autopsy findings of the PAO forensic team headed by Dr. Erwin Erfe which earlier linked the deaths of the children to Dengvaxia.

He said that some of PAO’s autopsy findings were “not supported by factual data,” including their conclusion that that there were hemorrhage in the heart of some of those who were given the vaccine.

He said that congestion, swelling, hemorrhage and edema, which were included in the PAO’s forensic report, are all “non-specific findings” which cannot be assigned to one disease.

Lo likewise debunked the latest accusation impleading him in the case saying it was “patently false” and that the PAO is just trying to “intimidate” him after his testimony before a House inquiry on the issue that he had presented disproved their claim that the deaths were related to the vaccine.

Topics: Department of Justice , Philippine Children’s Medical Center , Erwin Erfe , Dengvaxia , Persida Rueda Acosta
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