Malacañang not ‘politicizing’ Dengvaxia issue


MANILA — Malacañang on Monday denied that it was “politicizing” the issue on the controversial dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, worth PHP3.5 billion which was implemented during the Aquino administration in 2016.

“If it is (being politicized), it’s certainly not because of the President (Rodrigo R. Duterte),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Roque made this remark after former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, during a House probe on the Dengavaxia mess, claimed that the issue was being “politicized” by government officials he did not name.

“Alam na po nating pinasukan na ang isyung ito ng politika. Mainam sigurong ipaalala ko, na ang bawat opisyal ng pamahalaan, elected man o appointed, ay may oath of office” (We know that politics has entered this issue. Perhaps, it is worthy to remind officials in the government, whether elected or appointed, that they have an oath of office), Aquino said.

Roque stressed that Duterte himself had said that he understood why Aquino and health officials during his term opted to implement the dengue vaccine.

“The President has taken a very calm, very rational approach to this. He has made a declaration that he understands why the previous administration decided to use Dengvaxia, having been a victim of dengue himself,” Roque said.

He, however, said that Duterte has still ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to proceed with the investigation and prosecute those involved.

“But his (Duterte’s) continuing order is for the investigation NBI to continue and conclude it to find out who’s criminally liable,” Roque said.

“What the people want to know is, why was the process of purchasing the vaccine done so quickly. Did they know that Dengvaxia would pose risks to those who have not yet acquired dengue? Because if Sanofi and the government during that time knew, they would be civil liability if not criminal liability,” he added.

Both chambers of Congress are currently looking into the possibility that the purchase of the vaccine was rushed by the Aquino administration to use as funds during campaign period.

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