Senator Richard Gordon sees "conspiracy" in the government's procurement of P3.5-billion Dengvaxia vaccines from French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur.
"Merong very, very strong signs na parang may conspiracy," Gordon told Super Radyo dzBB in an interview on Sunday when asked if there was irregularity in the meeting between former Health secretary Janette Garin and Sanofi executives in Paris in May 2015.
"Ang sinasabi ko dito, is this needs-driven or supply-driven? Sa gobyerno, kapag nilalapitan ka, nililigawan ka, nagsu-supply ng gamot 'yan o ng isang gamit na hindi kailangan masyado ng gobyerno," he said.
Garin admitted in a television interview on Friday that she met with Sanofi Pasteur officials in Paris for a briefing on Devaxia.
Garin said nothing was irregular in the meeting because it was done in the presence of officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
"Kung may malisya yun, eh bakit all throughout meron kaming kasamang kasamahan natin sa Department of Foreign Affairs?" she said.
"Yung una po talaga kasing intensyon, andun yung pag-uusap na labas ba ang bakuna, kailan ba, magkano ba talaga ang presyo?" she added.
The Senate blue ribbon committee, which Gordon chairs, will hold on Monday an inquiry into the P3.5-billion deal for Dengvaxia vaccines, which administered to at least 830,000 people by the Department of Health without passing the requirements of the World Health Organization.
Gordon said Garin was invited to the hearing, though her attendance is still unsure due to the death of her father.
The senator said the budget for the procurement of the vaccine was not even part of the General Appropriations Act (GAA), and only the Philippines and Brazil, among all countries in the world, put allocation for the vaccine.
This, he said, was because there is no assurance yet that the vaccine was safe to be administered.
"Sa atin, pinilit talagang ilagay sa budget. Wala sa budget. Wala sa General Appropriations Act," Gordon said.
The senator said Garin's May 2015 meeting with Sanofi Pasteur executives, though not irregular on face value, creates a "circumstantial connection" leading to irregularity.
"Unang-una, wala sa GAA yung budget para sa dengue vaccine. Pangalawa, isiningit lang nila yan, gumawa sila ng paraan para isingit. Kaya nakakapagtaka, bisita ka nang bisita tapos bigla kang magmamadali, isisingit mo yung dengue vaccine," he said.
The government bought and rolled out the dengue vaccines from Sanofi in 2016, during the time of Garin as Health secretary.
Garin had said that the Philippine Children's Medical Center made the actual procurement of the vaccines. PCMC head Dr. Julius Lecciones, however, said the purchase was ordered by the Department of Health.
Gordon said the procurement of the dengue vaccine cannot be justified by the emergency need for it.
"Hindi e, hindi emergency. 500 dead lang sa isang taon e. Ang number ng dengue mababa eh," he said.
Gordon said the issues with Dengvaxia have already been put to light in the Senate's earlier investigation, yet these were not given much premium.
"Itong lumalabas ngayon [na problema], lumabas 'yan noong araw, mukhang hindi lang nailadlad nang maigi dahil magpa-Pasko nung panahon na iyon at malakas ang advertising ng Sanofi. I think they are really out of line," he said.
"Basahin n'yo talaga ang circumstances --- patapos na ang taon, palapit na ang eleksyon, napakalaki ng amount na kinuha," he added.
The House committee on good government and public accountability will also hold an inquiry into the Dengvaxia vaccine issue. —Erwin Colcol/ALG, GMA News