Senate blue ribbon to summon PAO's Acosta, Erfe to Dengvaxia probe
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate blue ribbon committee is set to subpoena Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta and forensic laboratory Director Erwin Erfe after repeatedly skipping hearings on the controversial Dengvaxia dengue vaccine thrice.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, chair of the Senate health committee, moved to summon the two on Tuesday, February 6. Ejercito said he came across PAO’s interviews saying they were not invited to the hearing.
“Since this is already 3rd time they did not show up, I move that we subponena Dr Erfe and likewise Atty. Acosta because whatever information they may have will be helpful in the course of our investigation. I so move, Mr Chair,” Ejercito said.
Senate blue ribbon chair Richard Gordon said PAO should not fear the panel.
“Please inform them we will issue nonetheless a subpoena… They don’t have to be afraid of the blue ribbon [committee],” Gordon said.
Ejercito questioned PAO’s refusal to cooperate with medical experts from the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), which he said might be to the detriment of the country’s case against vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur. (READ: Expert warns vs wild claims linked to Dengvaxia)
“Bakit ayaw makipagtulungan ng PAO sa experts ng UP-PGH? There are certain disciplines that require expertise. I’m hoping with this, we will be able to convince them to work together,” Ejercito said.
“Ang worry ko lang po rito... in the future, if we file a case against Sanofi, ayaw naman natin masayang trabaho natin dito (we don't want to waste all our efforts). We will lose by technicality. It will be good to have a concerted effort,” he added.
A group of doctors, including former health secretary Esperanza Cabral, urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to stop the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) from conducting autopsies on 14 children who supposedly died due to the controversial dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
Doctors for Public Welfare said that Erfe was "wrong in practically all of the 14" cases.
They said that Erfe "may at the very best have been correct in only 1 of 14 of the cases, or 7%; and wrong in 13 of 14 or 93%. In actuality, he is probably wrong in all, given that any actual causative relationship between the death of the 1 child to the vaccine is yet to be determined."
Citing the UP-PGH pathologists' findings, the group said, "None of the deaths of the 14 children autopsied were proven to be due to Dengvaxia. In fact, the deaths of 13 of them were totally unrelated to the vaccine." – Rappler.com