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Philippine Standard Time
HEALTH CHIEF ANSWERS PAO ALLEGATIONS ON DENGVAXIA

Secretary Francisco T. Duque III on Wednesday issued a statement on reports that the Public Attorney’s Office filed anew additional complaints against the health chief.

“We have yet to receive our copy of the complaints filed by the Public Attorney’s Office. Based on news reports, the parents of Abbie Hedia, as assisted by PAO, filed a complaint for obstruction of justice.”

“We reiterate our previous statement that the complaints filed by PAO is baseless, malicious and counterproductive. It hampers the ongoing efforts of the Department to provide accessible health care to those vaccinated by Dengvaxia and the general public,” Secretary Duque added.

Based on news reports, PAO claimed that the DOH has failed to turn over to PAO the masterlist of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia.

The Department has previously informed PAO that it cannot share the information without a subpoena due to prohibitions of the Data Privacy Act.

“The National Privacy Commission issued Advisory Opinion No. 2018-007 dated February 26, 2018, cautioning the Department of Health that the release of the master list of Dengvaxia recipients might be considered unauthorized,” Secretary Duque explained.

Secretary Duque said he was surprised that the PAO would go to such lengths of filing for obstruction for justice when it can easily apply for subpoena to get the dengue vaccine masterlist.

“As a lawyer, she knows she can get the masterlist if she applied for a subpoena from a competent authority. She could easily get it from the DOJ or the NBI. Yet, PAO decided to make a circus out of the situation by dragging mourning parents to court and file baseless charges,” Secretary Duque said.

“In fact, we have submitted the masterlist to the Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Gordon after receiving a subpoena. It’s a legal requirement I am sure she is aware of,” Secretary Duque added.

The Secretary also clarified that the P50,000 financial assistance that will be given to families of deceased Dengvaxia recipients will come from the Office of the President.

“The Office of the President requested that the DOH draft the guidelines for the claiming of the financial assistance. The money will come from the Office of the President,” Duque explained.

“It escapes me why Atty. Acosta is questioning the goodwill of President Duterte in providing assistance to bereaved families,” Secretary Duque added.

Furthermore, the health chief slammed PAO for maliciously implying he was a consultant for former Secretary Janette Garin.

“I vehemently deny that I was engaged as consultant for the DOH at any time during Secretary Garin’s tenure. I accepted my designation in May 2015 long before the decision to implement the Dengvaxia immunization was made by then Secretary Garin of which at that time I was completely unaware of. I was designated as head of a selection committee in good faith, and with the purest of intentions to assist the department, as a member of a collegial body, in evaluating the qualifications of its high-ranking officials. I want to emphasize that I did not take part in the department’s policy-making decision during the time in question,” he explained.

Secretary Duque was engaged by the DOH not as a consultant but as a mere resource person while he was Chairman of the Civil Service Commission in the selection process for third-level department officials.
 

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