By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
Is there any truth to the issue that there are “mafia-like operations” happening inside the Department of Health (DoH)?
The disclosure came from Doctor Francis Cruz, a former consultant to the DoH, who revealed names of past and present officials who allegedly benefited from the government’s dengue vaccine program worth P3.5 billion.
Cruz named 12 current officials and four past officials, including former Health Secretary Janette Garin, as part of the alleged mafia that allowed the purchase of the controversial French-made dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
Garin issued a challenge for Cruz to prove his claim by filing charges so the issue could be clarified and put to rest.
To some people, Cruz is a symbol of courage in naming names to back up his accusation. Obviously, how can he be considered credible enough if he kept the names to himself?
Others consider him a fool for trying to stop a system of corruption that is widely practiced in government.
For his part, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says he is open to an investigation. If Cruz can present documents to prove his claim, Duque will not hesitate to initiate a probe. Neither will he make any move to prevent Cruz from filing a complaint. The DoH will allegedly review the contracts of the accused officials.
Cruz said he had already submitted his evidence to the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) last May 2017.
He also presented a copy of his evidence to the Senate.
Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur admitted last year that their vaccine might cause severe dengue symptoms if administered to those who have not had the disease.
For this reason, the government stopped the immunization program and sale of Dengvaxia but not before the vaccine had already been given to more than 800,000 public school students.
A lot of parents panicked especially when news that some of the inoculated suffered severe dengue and died.
The forensic team of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is convinced that the dispensation of Dengvaxia had something to do with the deaths of seven children that they examined.
If the administration of Dengvaxia did cause their deaths, Firing Line believes everyone involved in the project, especially Sanofi, should be made accountable.
Heads should roll.
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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email [email protected] or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/
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