Former President Benigno Aquino III, along with two former Cabinet officials and several former and incumbent health officials are expected to appear next month before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the preliminary investigation on the complaint filed by two anti-crime advocacy groups over the controversial anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia.
In a clarificatory hearing on Friday, the DOJ panel, led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rossane Balauag, said they will issue subpoenas against Aquino and 44 respondents for their attendance on May 15 for the preliminary investigation over the criminal complaint filed by newly-appointed Philippine Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) lawyer Manuelito Luna and Eligio Mallari of the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Inc. (VPCI).
“We will be issuing a subpoena to all the respondents in the complaint for them to appear on May 15,” said Balauag.
Other members of the prosecution panel are Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Hazel Decena Valdez, and Assistant State Prosecutors Consuelo Corazon Pazziuagan and Gino Paolo Santiago.
The VACC and VPCI filed the complaint against them for possible violation of Section 3 of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act); Section 65 of RA 9184 (Government Procurement, Reform Act); Article 220 (Technical Malversation) of the Revised Penal Code; Article 365 (Criminal Negligence) of the Revised Penal Code; and for other violations of the law.
During the hearing, the complainants submitted voluminous documentary evidence they intend to use in the case, which include transcripts of the public hearing conducted by the Senate blue ribbon committee and Dengvaxia procurement/bidding documents.
VACC lawyer Manuelito Luna also informed the panel that he has been appointed as commissioner to the PACC and he would assume the position in 10 days.
He, however, said while he assumes a new post, he would still be a complainant in the case.
Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong will take the place of Luna as VACC lawyer in the case.
Aside from Aquino, named as respondents were former budget secretary Florencio Abad, former health secretary Janette Garin; Undersecretaries Dr. Carol Tanio, Gerardo Bayugo, Lilibeth David and Mario Villaverde; and Assistant Secretaries Lyndon Lee Suy and Nestor Santiago.
Others named are the health department’s Financial Management Service director Laureano Cruz; directors Dr. Joyce Ducusin, Dr. May Wynn Belo, Dr. Leonila Gorgolon, Dr. Rio Magpantay, Dr. Ariel Valencia and Dr. Julius Lecciones; retired health undersecretaries Dr. Nemesio Gako, Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go; and Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, who served as Garin’s head executive assistant.
Also named as respondents in the complaint are officials and employees of the pharmaceutical company Zuellig, which supplied the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine, and Sanofi Pasteur, Dengvaxia manufacturer. (By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan, With reports from Jay Ray Masayda, OJT/Philippine News Agency)