MANILA - Former President Benigno Aquino III, former Health Secretary Janette Garin and other health officials of the previous administration could face graft and corruption charges for approving the P3.5 billion dengue vaccination program, the head of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee said Wednesday.
Sen. Richard Gordon, who led the chamber's investigation into the controversy, said their report will propose graft and corruption charges, violation of the code of ethics, and civil action for damages against Aquino, former Budget Secretary Butch Abad, and several others.
"It’s willful, deliberate, damn the torpedoes…They’re violating the human rights of the parents and the children because the patients are required under law to be informed not only of the drug that is being administered, but the risks involved," he told ANC's Headstart.
They are also looking into possibly recommending plunder charges against the officials as well, he said.
The Dengvaxia vaccine, administered to some 800,000 public school children, could lead to more severe symptoms if given to those who have not had the mosquito-borne disease before, Sanofi Pasteur admitted late last year.
The drug-maker paid an initial P1.16 billion refund in January for unused vaccine doses, but repeatedly declined to fully refund the P3.5 billion on top of damages.
Gordon said he was filing a bill to seek that the refund be used for those who were inoculated with the drug.
The senator said they might also propose reckless imprudence and homicide charges against drug manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, along with their inclusion in the corruption complaint.
The French firm will also "definitely" face possible civil class suits, he said.
Gordon said the timeline for the procurement of P3-billion worth of Dengvaxia went "scandalously fast," with Aquino and Garin meeting with Sanofi officials here and abroad and Abad approving the release of the budget for it quickly.
"If the President meets with Sanofi in China and then meets again in Paris and the Secretary of Health is leading the charge, everybody else follows, that’s why they’re easily malleable," he said.