By Jeffrey Damicog
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is expected to conclude by next week its preliminary investigation over the complaint against former Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial who is accused of being liable in the deaths of children who received shots of the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.
Ubial is set to file this Monday a rejoinder before Assistant State Prosecutor Claire Eufracia Pagayanan who is conducting the preliminary investigation.
Should the parties in the case no longer seek the filing of additional rebuttals, Pagayanan may declare the case submitted for resolution.
The complaint was filed by former Health Secretary Janette Garin who accused Ubial of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
In the complaint, Garin explained the Department of Health (DOH) implemented a school-based dengue immunization program but, when Ubial took over, there was a reckless decision to have it expanded into a community-based program which resulted in the reported deaths.
“From the forgoing, it is clear that Sec. Ubial’s reckless implementation of the community-Based dengue immunization program was the only possible cause of the reported deaths,” read Garin’s complaint-affidavit.
“Deaths were reported soon after the implementation of Sec. Ubial’s community-based dengue immunization program. It must be emphasized that the deaths started during Sec. Ubial’s term as DOH secretary and afterwards,” Garin stressed.
Garin pointed out that the DOH prefers the school-based dengue immunization program “because the physical and organizational structure of such a program is already in place considering that Dengvaxia is already the sixth (6th) vaccine introduced in schools.”
“School-based vaccination likewise avoids politicizing immunization. In my experience community-based vaccination is more prone to abuse as it can be accessed by people who can actually afford the vaccine but unjustifiably avail of the free vaccines from the health centers.
“Community-based is likewise prone to abuse by local politicians who use it as a political tool facilitate access to free vaccines for their constituents who are unqualified,” she added.
Meanwhile, Garin herself is facing criminal complaints before the DOJ over the deaths of persons including schoolchildren who received Dengvaxia.