Former President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday defended his government’s decision to purchase the now controversial anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
Appearing before the Senate blue ribbon committee probe on the P3.5-billion program, Aquino said no one protested against his decision then.
“Diin ko lang po: Bago nagdesisyon ang gobyerno sa Dengvaxia, habang nagdedesisyon, pagkatapos magdesisyon at hanggang sa ngayon, walang naparating sa akin ng pagtutol sa bakuna,” Aquino said.
“Kaya natin inilunsad ito sa NCR, Calabarzon, at Central Luzon, dahil ayon sa datos ng DOH, ito po ang tatlong pinaka-apektadong rehiyon nung 2015 kaugnay ng dengue,” he said.
Aquino said his administration began to focus on dengue after receiving a memo from former Health Secretary Enrique Ona back in 2010.
He said the memo highlighted that there were five regions that reported alarming increases in dengue cases. He said around 2.8 million people were at risk of contracting dengue then.
“Ang dalawa sa limang rehiyon, higit 100 percent ang tinaas. May isa na 1,409.5 percent increase or 14 na beses ang tinaas,” Aquino pointed out.
He said he would have been made to answer a different kind of issue from critics if his government failed to implement a program addressing the increase in cases of dengue.
“Kung di lumabas itong sinabi ng Sanofi, at nagdesisyon akong hayaan na lang na magdusa pa ang mga boss ko, gayong may bakuna na, palagay ko ngayon, iba ang tanong ninyo at asunto sakin: Bakit mo pinabayaan ang Pilipino?” the former President said.
Aquino also admitted going to Paris in 2015 for the COP21 conference, and at the sidelines met with different companies, including Sanofi, the developer of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
Aquino said the vaccine went through “local and international processes.”
“Paliwanag sa akin, US FDA ang nagre-regulate sa international clinical trials. Dahil dumaan sa ganitong mga proseso, ang alam natin, safe na ang Dengvaxia para sa tao,” Aquino said.
“Diin ko na rin po: Di lang Pilipinas ang nag-apruba sa Dengvaxia. Nauna sa atin ang Mexico at Brazil,” he noted.
The vaccination program began on April 2016, just a month before the May presidential elections.
The DOH said at least 830,000 public school students have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Cebu. — RSJ, GMA News