Former President Aquino shows up for DOJ's Dengvaxia probe

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Aquino DOJ Dengvaxia

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 4) — Former President Benigno Aquino III appeared at the Department of Justice on Monday to submit his counter affidavit to charges of graft and other violations in connection with his administration's procurement of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

Former Health Secretary Janette Garin and Budget Chief Butch Abad also appeared for the preliminary investigation.

Justice Department's panel of prosecutors on May 15 ordered Aquino, Garin, and Abad to personally submit their counter affidavits on the Dengvaxia case filed against them.

They are facing charges ranging from violation of the anti-graft and procurement laws, technical malversation, criminal negligence for buying and carrying out a nationwide immunization program, to putting at risk the health of over 890,000 children.

Sanofi Pastuer, the maker of Dengvaxia — the world's first dengue vaccine — in November said new analysis showed the drug might increase the risk of severe dengue in people who had never been exposed to the virus. The announcement came after the Philippines' Department of Health administered the vaccine to school children, causing panic among parents.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and Citizens Crime Watch President Diego Magpantay filed the complaint on May 10 against Aquino, former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Abad, Garin, and other former and current health officials.

They accused Aquino and his co-respondents of pocketing part of the 3.5 billion-peso budget for the procurement of dengue vaccine Dengvaxia from Sanofi Pasteur.

The complainants claimed only P3 billion of the budget was released to the Philippine Children's Medical Center, which conducted pre-procurement activities, while the remaining P500 million remains unaccounted for.