MANILA — Former President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday appeared before the Senate blue ribbon committee as a resource person in the probe into the purchase of the controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia worth PHP3.5 billion.
Aquino came upon the invitation of the committee. This is the first time Aquino, a former senator, returned to the Senate since he was elected president in 2010.
Senator Richard Gordon, committee chair, earlier said that he saw “strong signs of conspiracy” in the vaccine purchase noting that it seemed like there was a hurry to procure them.
He said that his suspicion was fueled by reports that Aquino and former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Garin had several meetings with pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur which resulted in the acceleration of the procurement process.
In a statement he read before the committee, Aquino said that there were no parties that objected to purchasing Dengvaxia.
“Bago nagdesisyon ang gobyerno sa Dengvaxia, habang nagdedesisyon, pagkatapos magdesisyon at hanggang sa ngayon, walang nagparating sa akin ng pagtutol sa bakuna (Before the government decided to purchase Dengvaxia, while making the decision, after making the decision, and until now, there were no parties that reached me that objected to the vaccine), Aquino said in his statement.
Aquino said that this was the reason why an immunization program was launched in NCR, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon in 2015.
He said that because he vowed to leave the Philippines better than it was before, he felt that purchasing the vaccines would be beneficial.
The US Food and Drug Administration also assured them that they regulated international trials.
Dengvaxia, which was purchased during the Aquino administration in 2015, was later reported to pose risks to those who have not been previously infected by the virus.
To date, the DOH has stopped implementation of its program. PNA-northboundasia.com