Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts on Thursday questioned the timing of the release of the Senate draft committee report on the botched Dengvaxia mass vaccination drive, saying it could be a move to cover up controversies hounding the present administration.
“This is simply a smokescreen of the administration to hide the issues hounding its officials,” LP Vice President for external affairs Erin Tañada said in a statement.
“Why was the committee report released to the public before it has been filed or sponsored? Are not the signatures of majority of the committee members required before the report can be filed?” he asked. “What happens to the report if the majority disagrees? Wala pang pirma eh [There are no signatures yet].”
Tañada pointed out that the release of the draft report coincided with the impending closure of Boracay Island, President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to the House to hasten the impeachment process against Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno, and the rising prices of goods and services.
“Nais na naman nilang ilihis ang isyu mula sa kapalpakan at kontrobersyang bumabalot sa administrasyong ito para matuon sa LP ang galit ng taumbayan [They intend to divert the issue from their failures and controversies hounding the administration in order for people to divert their anger at LP],” he added.
Senator Bam Aquino echoed Tañada’s comments, saying that if the final report reflects the draft findings, they “will have serious concerns with the conclusions made.”
“Though this report has not been made available to the members of the Blue Ribbon Committee, if the final report reflects yesterday’s statements and political leanings, we will have serious concerns with the conclusions made,” he said.
Moreover, the senator reiterated that no child has been proven to have died due to the Dengvaxia vaccine.
“Ang isang mahalaga na lumabas sa presscon kahapon ay wala pang napatutunayan na may batang namatay dahil sa Dengvaxia vaccine [One thing is important that came out of that presscon yesterday and that no proof that a child died because of the Dengvaxia vaccine],” he said.
For his part, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat doubted the fairness of Gordon’s report. He said it focused mainly on the past administration, but stayed silent on the responsibility of the current government which continued and expanded the program.
“Hindi lang sa nakaraang administrasyon ipinatupad ang bakuna sa Dengvaxia kundi sa kasalukuyang administrasyon. Nakakapagtaka na nakatuon lang ang report ni Sen. Gordon sa nakalipas na administrasyon [It is not only in the previous administration that the Dengvaxia was implemented but until the present administration. It is highly unbelievable that the report of Sen. Gordon is aimed only at the previous administration],” said Baguilat.
Senate blue ribbon committee chair Senator Richard Gordon presented the draft committee report on Wednesday during the Kapihan Sa Senado forum but without the signatures of the member-senators.
The draft report recommended that former President Benigno Aquino II, Former Health Secretary Janette Garin and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, and other former officials be charged for violating among others, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The draft report also recommended the filing of case against French Pharmaceutical giant and Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur for violating provisions of the Civil Code on Quasi-delicts.
Gordon is set to submit the report to the committee members for signature before presenting it to the plenary for approval.
Aquino and Garin said they are ready to face the charges against them, as they slammed the draft report and dismissed it as “one-sided and inaccurate.”