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Graft complaints filed vs. Acosta, Erfe over Dengvaxia scare

Public Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta and PAO Forensic Laboratory Chief Dr. Erwin Erfe are facing criminal and administrative complaints for graft and misuse of their public office and of public funds in connection with the public anger and alleged hysteria over the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

In a 20-page complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman, Attorney Wilfredo Garrido Jr. alleged that Acosta and Erfe violated the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; falsification of public documents; malversation of public funds; and illegal use of public funds or property.

"Acosta and her sidekick Erfe have fanned public anger, even creating hysteria, by painting the deaths as the result of a nefarious scheme to inject hundreds of thousands of children with an untested, experimental, ineffective and dangerous vaccine called Dengvaxia," the complaint read.

Garrido claimed Acosta and Erfe fanned public anger and hysteria over the Dengvaxia vaccine which they painted as the cause of deaths of many patients, mostly children.

Acosta also allegedly "actively sought out and instigated" the parents of deceased Dengvaxia recepients to file criminal cases against public health officials, an example of the worst case of exploitation and ambulance-chasing by a public attorney.

Acosta and Erfe are also facing the administrative charges of grave misconduct; serious dishonesty; grave abuse of authority; and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service.

The complainant said the creation of the "PAO Forensic Laboratory," manned by Erfe, had no mandate from the Congress and was not described at the Administrative Code and the PAO Law, and therefore a patently illegal office.

GMA News Online sought comment from the PAO chief but has yet to receive any as of posting time.

"The PAO Forensic Office was created by Acosta to accommodate Dr. Erwin Erfe and to conjure evidence which the PNP Crime Laboratory or the NBI Crime Laboratory might refuse to produce, tailor-fit to suit her accusation."

Acosta and Erfe are thus guilty of malversation of public funds, illegal use of public funds and graft and corruption for creating and funding an office without legislative authority, Garrido argued.

Further, Acosta had not presented evidence or facts showing the indigency of her Dengvaxia clients.

Meanwhile, Garrido cited a case where Erfe certified the results of an autopsy conducted on a 13 year old girl who died in January 2018 of “Dengue shock syndrome,” after receiving a “number of doses of Dengvaxia.”

However, the City Health Office of Antipolo stated that the victim was not given dengue vaccine.

Garrido also questioned the credentials of Erfe, citing both Malacañang and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III that he is no pathology expert. —Jamil Santos/NB, GMA News