Tacloban City—Former Health Secretary Janette L. Garin said the new cases, as well as the ones previously filed against her and 36 others before the Department of Justice last week, are all “baseless” and not supported by expert medical testimony.
Three more criminal cases were filed against Garin and 36 other codefendants over the deaths of schoolchildren inoculated with the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine.
Garin, in a news statement, said the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is giving false hopes to the poor parents who do not fully understand the medical basis of their complaint.
“They are being misled by PAO doctors who are not pathologists nor experts in vaccinology. I hope PAO will soon realize the fallacy of their actions which are causing undue hysteria and fear of vaccines,” she said.
Garin added that PAO’s penchant for media exposure on its haphazard and flawed medical conclusions has seriously affected the health program of the Department of Health.
“The actions of PAO should, in fact, be questioned before the Ombudsman for causing undue prejudice to the government’s health programs,” she stated.
A complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under the Revised Penal Code and violations of the Anti-Torture Act and Consumer Act was filed against former health officials and executives of manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp. by the families of Clarissa Alcantara, Erico Leabres and Christine Mae de Guzman.
The three victims—Alcantara, 12, from Aurora; Leabres, 10, from Nueva Ecija and de Guzman, 10, from Bataan—all died after being inoculated with Dengvaxia, according to complaints filed by their parents through the assistance of the PAO, which was tasked by the DOJ to conduct fact-finding investigation and case buildup on the Dengvaxia controversy.
The latest cases brought to 15 the number of criminal cases filed against Garin and other respondents before the DOJ as the PAO has documented over 80 cases of deaths from the vaccine.
Like previous cases, the latest complaint accused Garin and others of negligence through “arbitrarily, maliciously and deliberate failure to inform the Dengvaxia recipients and their parents/families of the dangers and risks related to Dengvaxia and to obtain their informed consent.”
It also cited the failure of the DOH under Garin to conduct proper screening of Dengvaxia recipients and to implement active and aggressive monitoring and surveillance of the recipients, considering the risks posed by the vaccine to seronegative recipients or those who had no history of dengue.
The PAO earlier filed 12 cases involving the deaths of victims Aejay Bautista, Angelica Pestilos, Lenard Baldonado, Zandro Colite, Abbie Hedia, Jansyn Bataan, Mark Axel Ebonia, Rey Justin Almagno, Alexander Jaime, Naomi Nimura, Michael Tablate and John Paul Rafael.
Garin and other respondents have denied the charges and sought dismissal of the complaints.
Executives of Sanofi and Zuellig have yet to appear before the DOJ as they needed to have their answers pass through their respective embassies.