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Duterte urged filing of murder raps over Dengvaxia mess —Acosta

Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte had advised her to file murder complaints over alleged Dengvaxia-linked deaths.

The Public Attorney's Office represents families who filed complaints for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide before the Department of Justice (DOJ), but Acosta earlier said they were studying the possibility of upgrading the charges to murder.

Acosta said the plan is on hold as the PAO awaits a prosecution panel's resolution on the first of the three batches of complaints.

"Tama po ang payo sa akin ng isa nating pinakamataas ng opisyal ng pamahalaan, murder itong kaso dapat dito," Acosta told reporters after a preliminary probe hearing on the second batch of complaints at the DOJ.

When asked who the official was, she said: "[Si] Pangulong Duterte. Sabi niya sa'kin, dapat murder."

Pressed for details, she admitted she inadvertently disclosed what was supposed to be confidential information.

She shared that the president made the statement in a meeting last February with her, former Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, doctors Anthony Leachon and Francis Cruz, and PAO forensics chief Erwin Erfe. 

"...Ipinakita namin 'yung mga ebidesnya ng PAO na common pattern: brain bleeding, internal organs bleeding, enlargement, hemorrhages, edema," she said.

However, she said Duterte's statement will not be cited in the PAO's pleadings before the DOJ.

So far, the PAO has backed the filing of 27 criminal complaints against former Health secretary Janette Garin and dozens others over deaths allegedly linked to the anti-dengue vaccine. On Thursday, Acosta announced they would file two more sets of charges.

Sonia Cadiog Guerra, Felix Noel Vasquez, and Honey Dee De Luna Rosal are named complainants in two new sets of charges over the deaths of two schoolchildren.

The complaints accuse incumbent Health chief Francisco Duque III, alongside Garin and 37 others, of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and violations of the anti-torture law and the Consumer Act of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the panel of prosecutors handling the second batch of PAO complaints set a December 3 preliminary investigation hearing for the final submission of pleadings, after which the complaints will be deemed submitted for resolution. —LBG, GMA News