The Public Attorney’s Office on Friday threatened to file 102 new criminal cases before the Department of Justice against ex-health chief Janette Garin, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and executives of Sanofi Pasteur Inc. for the deaths of 101 school children and the illness of a survivor who were inoculated with Dengvaxia vaccine.
PAO Chief Persida Acosta said aside from Garin and Duque, former and active officials from the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and Sanofi representatives would also face multiple counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and torture.
“The cases will be filed in November,” she said, without specifying the exact date.
Due to the lockdown brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), she said the filing of the fresh cases had been delayed.
She gave assurances that PAO was strictly observing the safety and health protocols in conducting an autopsy on the cadavers of children suspected to have died of Dengvaxia vaccine.
“Our personnel are equipped with personal protective equipment, and that we ensure the cadaver has tested negative for the virus,” she said.
Acosta welcomed a latest Supreme Court decision to consolidate 17 criminal charges filed against Garin; ex- and incumbent health officials, FDA and RITM, and Sanofi Pasteur Inc., and to designate a family court to handle the cases.
“We have just received the Supreme Court order last Oct. 15,” she said.
She thanked SC Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta for granting their request for the transfer of the venue of the cases to a family court in Quezon City.
”… to direct the Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City to cause the raffle of the above-mentioned cases to a single branch of the Family Court for further proceedings within three days from receipt of the case record,” the order read.
“There is no reason for the Office of the Solicitor General to file a certiorari to question the order of the MTCs to transfer the criminal cases for lack of jurisdiction,” she added.
She said the High Court had spoken.
In April 2019, PAO asked the Supreme Court to grant its request to consolidate and transfer to a Quezon City court several criminal cases filed before various courts in connection with deaths allegedly linked to the anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.
PAO said “it will promote the speedy administration of justice and will be more favorable for all parties.”
In November 2017, Sanofi, the manufacturer of Dengvaxia vaccine, issued an official statement on its website, and admitted the drug could be harmful when administered to individuals not previously infected with dengue.
“Dengvaxia provides persistent protective benefits against dengue fever in those who had prior infection. For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however… more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection,” the statement read.
The government procured P3.5 billion worth of Dengvaxia intended for one million public school children in areas reported to have the highest incidence of dengue in 2015.
In April 2016, the school-based mass vaccination began, and that the vaccine was administered to 830,000 school children and even policemen.
The justice department cleared Duque of any liability in the previous cases.
But PAO said there were several instances of Dengvaxia vaccination until 2018.