Looks like someone committed a major boo-boo.
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta inadvertently told the media yesterday that President Rodrigo Duterte recommended the filing of murder raps against those involved in the immunization of Dengvaxia to children. When reporters asked for details, Acosta admitted that she wasn’t supposed to divulge that confidential information.
For the unaware, Dengvaxia is a vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur meant to protect people against the mosquito-borne disease dengue.
The Philippine government immunized school children with it during the time of President Benigno Aquino III. However, the program was halted after the Duterte administration alleged that several children died due to the vaccine.
As a result, complaints have been filed against former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Garin, current DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, other officials at the DOH, Sanofi Pasteur, and its distributor, Zuellig Pharma.
PAO filed charges of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, but in a huddle with reporters yesterday, Acosta said they might upgrade the case to murder but will wait for the result of an investigation to be released first.
Anyway, back to what Acosta accidentally said. She was quoted by GMA News for saying in Filipino: “What the highest government official told me is true. This should be a murder case.”
When she was asked who the official was, she said: “President Duterte. He said it should be murder.”
Acosta said that the meeting with Duterte also included then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, a certain Dr. Anthony Leachon, a Dr. Francisco Cruz, then-Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption chair Dante Jimenez, and PAO’s forensics chief Dr. Erwin Erfe.
When pressed for more details, Acosta confessed that her meeting with Duterte was supposed to be confidential, reported ABS-CBN News.
She told reporters that she slipped (“nadulas” in Filipino) to explain why she mentioned details of their supposedly hush-hush convo.
With people like this, how could this government go wrong?
At present, there are 29 Dengvaxia complaints pending before the Department of Justice.