Former President Benigno Aquino III hastened the procurement of the questioned vaccine Dengvaxia when he met executives of Sanofi Pasteur in Paris and sent the signal that the anti-dengue immunization program should start soon in 2016, Senator Richard Gordon said on Tuesday.
At the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee’s investigation into the P3.8-billion Dengvaxia mess, Gordon pointed to Aquino as the one responsible for what he indicated was the rushed purchase of the vaccine doses.
“When the President talks with Sanofi, even goes to Paris, (then Health) Secretary Garin could be the captain but it is the commander-in-chief that gives the signal for the P 3.8 billion for the procurement of the vaccines and P4.5 billion for other projects,” Gordon said.
Gordon had asked who should be responsible after the conditions set by the Formulary Executive Council before Dengvaxia could be exempted from its assessment, a requirement for the purchase of vaccines, were complied with.
“Kung hindi sinunod iyan somebody has to be held responsible. Who pushed the button? Who said gawin na natin ito? Damn the torpodoes, full speed ahead,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s first Secretary of Health Paulyn Ubial said Garin should be held responsible but Gordon indicated that the blame should go even higher and include more officials.
“The people who pushed the button, the President, budget minister (Florencio Abad), health secretary, and all the people who went for the ride, they disregarded conditions, they disregarded protocols, even violating procurement provisions and in the process hurt the young people of this country,” Gordon said.
“When you see the President of the Philippine meeting with Sanofi in Paris, are you not surprised that the timeline will be so fast? And when he mets again on December 1, should we not be surprised na amiblis lumabas ng SARO (special allotment release order),” he added.
Aquino earlier denied that the implementation of the Dengvaxia mass immunization was rushed.
“The end result if that if you do not do this at this point in time, you are practically saying that the first implementation of this vaccine will be in 2017 because it will be for the next budget cycle, which will be under the new administration,” he said when he attended the hearing on December 14.