A day after testifying in the Senate over the Dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, former President Benigno S. Aquino III was sued for mass murder and plunder before the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday in connection with the P3.5-billion health program.
Former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and former Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco Jr. filed the complaint against Aquino and former Health Secretary Janette Garin.
Syjuco even went on to call the Dengvaxia case as the health sector’s “Mamasapano” of the Aquino administration.
"Dengvaxia is basically a duplicate, a mirror image of what Mamasapano was. The complaint specifically says here mass murder through recklessness or insufficiency and plunder. Basically these are the charges," he said.
However, Syjuco admitted he currently has no evidence to back his charges against Aquino except for around 22 news articles.
“I have put together a compendium of newspaper articles and reports and I have put together 22 of these reports,” Syjuco said.
“I am asking the Ombudsman to investigate. That is what the purpose of the Ombudsman is, to investigate. Do I have all the proof in the world? No I don't. But that's not my function. As a citizen, all I have to do is complain and the Ombudsman is the one who is supposed to conduct the investigation,” he added.
Aquino, during his testimony at the Senate blue ribbon committee, said he wasn't made aware of the controversies hounding Dengvaxia manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur when he met them twice during his administration.
He also defended his administration's purchase of the vaccine, saying he began to focus on dengue after receiving a memo in 2010 from then-Health Secretary Enrique Ona on the alarming increase of dengue cases in five regions.
The DOH said at least 830,000 public school students have been vaccinated with Dengvaxia in Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and Cebu.
In the complaint, Syjuco said Aquino and Garin endagered the lives of about 733,000 children when they purchased the vaccine from the French pharmaceutical company.
"What horrors or dengue-related deaths, await our 733,000 9-year old or older loved ones in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon, who received Aquino Dengvaxia inoculations?" Syjuco said.
"These acts or the outright unconscionable as mass murder through, recklessness or inefficiency, and plunder among others," he added.
Syjuco said "one death is one death too many" when asked why he filed mass murder charges against Aquino. He cited the death of an 11-year-old student who supposedly died months after receiving a shot of Dengvaxia.
The DOH has ordered the suspension of the vaccine program, while the Food and Drug Administration has ordered Sanofi to stop the sale, distribution and marketing of Dengvaxia.
Sought for comment, lawyer Abigail Valte, spokesperson of the former President, said: “Then the public can judge him (Syjuco) by his own admission: he has no evidence against the former president.”
“Unfortunately, our judicial system is bogged down by frivolous suits like this one. At the end of the day, public money and precious time is wasted, and for what?” Valte said. — with Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez/MDM/KBK, GMA News