Groups take Dengvaxia battle to Supreme Court, Ombudsman

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Dengvaxia was administered to over 800,000 Filipino students in a school-based government immunization program in 2016. FILE PHOTO.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 22) — More than 70 mothers and their children trooped to the Supreme Court and the Ombudsman Friday to seek accountability from former and incumbent government officials on the multi-billion dengue vaccination mess.

They first asked the high court to compel the departments of health, education, and interior and local government to provide long-term consultations and treatment for more than 800,000 children administered with Dengvaxia in 2016.

They want the government to provide these services for free.

The parents were assisted by Gabriela party-list. Rep. Emmi de Jesus. Said parents from all around Metro Manila have been asking them for help after knowing that Dengvaxia is potentially harmful to their children.

The group then filed before the Office of the Ombudsman a graft complaint against former President Benigno Aquino III and some of his Cabinet members.

In a statement, Aquino's spokesperson Abigail Valte said the former president's attendance at the Senate committee hearing on the Dengvaxia controversy proves he is taking accountability seriously. She said Aquino will continue to answer all allegations thrown at him.

Also charged were former Health Secretary Janette Garin, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.

"Tinitignan natin baka nga nagkaroon ng conspiracy (We're looking at a possible conspiracy)," de Jesus said, adding that pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur may have sold Dengvaxia despite not being sure of its safety and efficacy.

Dengvaxia was administered to over 800,000 Filipino students in a school-based government immunization program last April 2016.

READ: Timeline on the Dengvaxia controversy

Sanofi Pasteur later announced the vaccine had potentially severe dengue risks among those who have had no dengue history. But the vaccine maker said there were no reported deaths caused by Dengvaxia, and it remains safe.

The ensuing panic prompted the Health Department to suspend its program and the Senate to investigate the P3.5 billion spent on it.

Aquino and Garin were earlier slapped with charges of mass murder and plunder over the controversial dengue vaccine program that was rolled out during their term.

Both Aquino and Garin have denied any irregularities in the purchase of the Dengvaxia.

READ: Aquino defends quick purchase of Dengvaxia using gov't savings