MANILA, Phillippines — Former President Benigno ‘Pnoy’ Aquino III, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and former Health Secretary Janette Garin is in hot water over the controversial Dengvaxia case, as the House of Representatives has recommended filing charges of graft, technical malversation and grave misconduct.
The House committee pointed out that there was an apparent connivance among public officials to ensure that the government would purchase a large quantity of Dengvaxia vaccine.
"These officials provided shortcuts in the process to favor Sanofi Pasteur, the manufacturer of a commercially available dengue vaccine," the House report read.
The report noted that several public officials may be held liable for "conspiring and confederating with one another," violating Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The House panel said that Aquino should be held liable for approving the P3.5-billion budget for the purchase of dengue vaccines in 2015 while Abad should be charged for requesting the release of these funds.
Garin, on the other hand, is to be held liable for proposing the procurement of Dengvaxia despite the lack of certificate of product registration for the vaccine.
As for the technical malversation charge, the House panel noted that the 2015 national budget did not appropriate funds for the acquisition of the vaccine under the DOH budget, as well as the agency's expanded immunization program.
Aquino, however, approved Garin's request to use the "savings" to purchase the dengue vaccine, the report read.
"Thus, the President may be authorized by law to augment any item in the general appropriations with savings from other items, this power to augment necessitates an existing appropriation to be augmented. Savings cannot be used to fund procurements that have for which no appropriations have been made in the GAA," it said.
For this, Aquino, Abad, Garin and Philippine Children's Medical Center executive director Julies Lecciones could be held liable for illegal use of public funds or technical malversation under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code.
The House panel also explained that such acts constitute grave misconduct wherein the concerned public officials may be held administratively liable.
Administrative cases may be filed against the concerned public officials despite some of them not being in the government at the moment. They can be dismissed from the service under the Revised Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service.
"In addition, Section 52(a) of the same Rule provides that the penalty of dismissal shall carry with it the cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits, perpetual disqualification for reemployment in the government service, and bar from taking civil service examination," the report read.
The Department of Justice earlier summoned Garin, as well as other officials, to answer the criminal charges against them over the deaths supposedly brought about by the dengue vaccine. At least three batches of cases have been filed against them before the DOJ in connection to the Dengvaxia mess.