The Department of Justice on Monday began its preliminary investigation into the second batch of criminal complaints arising from the deaths of schoolchildren inoculated with the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine.
The complainants, parents and guardians of the eight victims appeared before the panel of prosecutors led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay to subscribe to their complaints.
They affirmed their complaint of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, violations of the Anti-Torture Act and Consumer Act against former Health secretary Janette Garin and 36 other Health officials and the executives of manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and distributor Zuellig Pharma Corp.
The prosecutors then summoned Garin and other respondents to answer the charges and to submit their counter-affidavits in the next hearing set for Oct. 29.
The second batch of complaints filed by the Public Attorney’s Office covers the deaths of Clarissa Alcantara, Christine Mae De Guzman, Erico Leabres, Roshaine Cariño, Naomi Nimura, John Paul Rafael, Michael Tablate and Christine Joy Asuncion.
The complainants accuse Garin and the others of negligence through “arbitrarily, maliciously and deliberately failing to inform the Dengvaxia recipients and their parents/families of the dangers and risks related to the Dengvaxia and to obtain their informed consent.”
They cited the failure of the Health department under Garin to conduct a proper screening of the Dengvaxia recipients and to monitor recipients considering the risks posed by the vaccine to those who had no history of dengue.
They said the respondents “displayed grave recklessness, utter bad faith, lack of foresight, lack of skill, want of care, gross neglect and deliberate, arbitrary and even malicious disregard for the safety and lives of thousands of Filipino children.”
The Justice department, through a separate panel led by Assistant State Prosecutor Maria Emilia Victorio, has already concluded the preliminary investigation for the first batch of complaints involving nine victims: Aejay Bautista, Angelica Pestilos, Lenard Baldonado, Zandro Colite, Abbie Hedia, Jansyn Bataan, Mark Axel Ebonia, Rey Justin Almagno and Alexander Jaime.
PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta said they will file another set of more than 10 complaints on Oct. 30.
The PAO, which was tasked by the Department of Justice to conduct investigation and to build up the Dengavaxia cases, has so far documented at least 94 deaths from the controversial vaccine approved and implemented during the previous administration.