By Jeffrey G. Damicog
Former President Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino III and his co-respondents including former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and former Health Secretary Janette Garin have been given until next month to respond to the criminal complaint against them over the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine mess.
During a preliminary investigation hearing held yesterday, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor (SASP) Rossane Balauag, who heads the panel investigating the complaint, gave Aquino and his co-respondents until June 4 to file their respective counter-affidavits.
Though Aquino, Abad, Garin and most of the respondents only have lawyers representing them during today’s hearing, Balauag said all of the defendants are required to appear before the panel on June 4.
The panel headed by Balauag conducted the preliminary investigation over the criminal complaint filed by Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) lawyer Manuelito Luna and suspended lawyer Eligio Mallari Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Inc. (VPCI).
In the complaint, Aquino, Duque and Garin along with co-respondents who are former and current DoH officials, are accused of having committed violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; technical malversation under Section 65(3) of RA 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act; and reckless imprudence resulting multiple homicide through criminal negligence under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Executives of Dengavaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur and local distributor Zuellig Pharma were also named as co-respondents in the complaint.
Meantime, another panel of prosecutors headed by Assistant State Prosecutor Maria Emilia Victorio conducted a separate preliminary investigation yesterday over the deaths of nine children who received Dengvaxia.
Assisted by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), the complaints were filed b the families of the dead children, namely, Aejay Bautista, Anjielica Pestillos, Lenard Baldonado, Zandro Colite, Abbie Hedia, Jansyn Art Bataa, Mark Axel Ebonia, Rey Justin Almagno, and Alexander Jaime.
Victorio gave the respondents in these complaints until June 25 to file their respective counter-affidavits.
Several complaints were filed where the families accused the respondents of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC); for torture resulting to the death of a person and the torture of a child under Republic Act 9745 to name a few.
Aquino, Duque and Garin were named respondents along with several other former and current DOH officials.