DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the agency would start the preliminary investigation on the joint complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. (VPCI) ahead of the conclusion of the government’s fact-finding investigation into the controversy.
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DOJ to probe Aquino on Dengvaxia complaints
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) will proceed with its probe on the criminal charges filed against former president Benigno Aquino III and 19 others over the Dengvaxia controversy.

DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the agency would start the preliminary investigation on the joint complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. (VPCI) ahead of the conclusion of the government’s fact-finding investigation into the controversy.

Since probers have yet to determine the cause of death of children who received the vaccine, Aguirre said the burden to prove the respondents’ criminal liabilities lies with the private complainants.

The DOJ chief said the complaint filed by VACC and VPCI is independent from other possible complaints to be filed by other parties on the same controversy.

“It would be up to the prosecutors whether to consolidate or resolve them separately,” he explained.

On Monday, the complainants filed charges of multiple homicide and physical injuries, malversation of public funds and violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and Government Procurement Reform Act against Aquino, former budget secretary Florencio Abad, former health secretary Janette Garin and several incumbent and former government officials as well as executives of the pharmaceutical firms Sanofi Pasteur and Zuellig.

VACC lawyer Manuelito Luna said they conducted their own investigation and submitted to the DOJ pieces of evidence as well as records of the Senate and DOH probes.

Luna cited the findings of the Philippine General Hospital doctors, which showed that three of 14 suspected deaths were possibly caused by Dengvaxia.

It has been clarified that such opinion was not conclusive as the doctors were unable to examine the tissues from the children’s corpses.

Aguirre earlier suggested that a foreign forensic pathologist is needed to resolve the issue.

Importance of vaccine cited

Meanwhile, a pediatrician and vaccine expert cited the importance of vaccines in combatting anti-microbial resistance (AMR).

Lulu Bravo, founder of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) and professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, said increasing vaccine coverage could help address the world’s growing problem on AMR.

“The primary problem of the World Health Organization (WHO) is how to reduce antibiotic resistance. You have to lessen the diseases that you have so you don’t have to have antibiotics. Less antibiotic, less chances of resistance,” she said in a forum in Quezon City yesterday.

AMR occurs when the viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites change, making the antibiotic ineffective in curing illnesses.

“Immunization is a key factor to sustainable development. Yearly, some three million deaths were prevented due to vaccines. This was three years ago. Now it could already be five million,” she said, adding that vaccines have saved some 750,000 children from disability. 

“Vaccine is one of the greatest health achievements in the world. With the exception of clean drinking water, vaccines are the most effective intervention in reducing and preventing the return of infectious diseases.”

She urged parents to continue to trust the vaccines amid the mess created by Dengvaxia.– With Sheila Crisostomo

Related video:

BENIGNO AQUINO III DENGVAXIA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
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