Speedy passage seen for Dengvaxia aid bill | Malaya Business Insight

Reference:
Vigilia, W. & Lopez, J. P. (2018, April 16). Speedy passage seen for Dengvaxia aid bill. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved April 16, 2018 from http://malaya.com.ph/business-news/news/speedy-passage-seen-dengvaxia-aid-bill

Speedy passage seen for Dengvaxia aid bill
April 16, 2018
BY WENDELL VIGILIA AND JP LOPEZ

CONGRESS is expected to approve a measure setting aside P1.16 billion to assist the recipients of the dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, which is being blamed for the deaths of schoolchildren.

The House of Representatives and the Senate will have to adopt a joint resolution to earmark the amount which was returned to the government by Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur through its local distributor Zuellig Pharma.

Rep. Johnny Pimentel (PDP-Laban, Surigao del Sur), one of the authors of House Joint Resolution No. 21, said he is counting on both the House and the Senate to pass the measure soon after the resumption of session on May 15.

Pimentel said it will be quicker to pass a joint resolution than separate Senate and House versions of the bill because the Senate can just adopt the House version.

Pimentel chairs the House good government and public accountability committee, which conducted a joint inquiry with the health panel into the Dengvaxia controversy.

“This is a special appropriations measure, since right now, without the express authorization of Congress, the Sanofi refund is idle,” he said.

Pimentel said both the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Health (DOH) have asked Congress to set aside the P1.16 billion to pay for the treatment and hospitalization of school children who became sick after receiving Dengvaxia.

“We are thus merely allowing the DBM to release the money from Sanofi so that the DOH may spend it to look after the vaccinees,” he said.

The refunded amount was for the unused vials of the controversial vaccine which was administered to some 830,000 schoolchildren as part of the Aquino administration’s dengue immunization program.

Dengvaxia was used in a P3.5-billion mass dengue vaccination program towards the end of the Aquino administration in April 2016.

Pimentel noted that of the 65 mortalities believed to be linked to Dengvaxia, 13 were due to severe dengue infection while 52 were due to other causes.

Certifications received by Rep. Karlo Nograles (PDP-Laban, Davao City), chair of the House committee on appropriations, showed that the P1.16-billion refund has already been transmitted to the National Treasury as of January 26, 2018.

“The money is already there and all we have to do now is to put it to good use. Using Sanofi’s refund is the least we could do to try to correct a possible misstep with this particular mass vaccination program,” said Nograles.

Under of House Joint Resolution No. 21, the appropriations measure will cover hospitalization expenses (including reimbursement) in case of adverse effects following vaccination, including all in-patient checkup costs incurred; outpatient medical examinations, including but not limited to, diagnostic and confirmatory laboratory tests and medicines prescribed after positive confirmation of negative effects of the vaccine; expenses incurred in the post-mortem of the remains of vaccinees who died purportedly due to Dengvaxia-related complications; the distribution of medical kits to the families of vaccinees; and the hiring of additional nurses to oversee the condition of vaccines.

AQUINO

Sen. Richard Gordon took a dig at some of his colleagues for supposedly trying to defend former President Benigno Simeon Aquino III from the graft charges being recommended by the Blue Ribbon Committee to be filed against him for the hasty procurement of Dengvaxia vaccines.

Gordon, who chairs the committee, said members of the Liberal Party, Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Panfilo Lacson would definitely defend Aquino for personal reasons.

He said it was Aquino who gave amnesty to Trillanes, who was then detained on coup charges.

He also said Lacson surfaced after 15 months of eluding arrest on his alleged involvement in the Dacer-Corbito double murder charges, when Aquino assumed the Presidency in 2010.

Gordon last week released his draft committee report finding Aquino, former health secretary Janette Garin, former budget secretary Florencio Abad and other officials responsible “for all the tragedy, damage, and possible deaths” resulting from the mass vaccination program.

Gordon described Aquino, Garin, Abad, and other officials as “primary conspirators” in the purchase of the dengue vaccines and the implementation of the program despite warnings from local and international experts.

Lacson has said it was difficult for him to believe that Aquino could not capable of committing graft and corruption.

Trillanes branded as a mere “publicity stunt” the release of the committee report which he said has not been routed to the offices of committee members for signature.

He said while he is grateful to Aquino, he opposed some of the policies of the former president such as the K-12 and Reproductive Health Law.

Gordon clarified that he does not wish Aquino to be jailed, but he has to be held liable for graft over his supposed role in the tragedy.

Gordon believes that the committee’s documentary evidence against Aquino and the other officials are strong enough to stand in court.

He is also optimistic that majority of senators will sign and approve his committee report.

Category: National | Malaya Business Insight

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