MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent the bill proposing a P1.16-billion medical support fund for Dengvaxia vaccine recipients a day before Congress adjourned session.
Duterte wrote the letter to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday, May 29, the same day the Davao del Norte 1st District representative wrote to Malacañang requesting House Bill (HB) No. 7449 be ceritifed as urgent.
“Mr Speaker, pursuant to the provisions of Article VI, Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution, I hereby certify to the necessity of the immediate enactment of House Bill No. 7449… in order to support and provide the necessary health and medical assistance to Dengvaxia vaccines,” said Duterte.
Based on the version of HB 7449 approved by the House committee on appropriations, the proposed Dengvaxia fund is broken down as follows:
- P945,827,530 for Medical Assistance Program (MAP)
- P78,296,250 for the assessment and monitoring of Dengvaxia-vaccinated children
- P70,000,000 for supplies and medicine
- P67,586,220 for health workers to be deployed to monitor the vaccinated kids
The money will be sourced from the amount returned by vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur to the Philippine government through distributor Zuellig Pharma.
House appropriations panel chairperson Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles already sponsored the bill on second reading on Monday, May 28.
With Duterte’s certification, the bill may now be passed on 2nd and 3rd reading on the same day.
The P1.16-billion fund will be used to shoulder the medical expenses and monitor the health of more than 870,000 public school students who got the Dengvaxia vaccine through the government’s now-suspended immunization program.
The Dengvaxia controversy began after Sanofi announced in November 2017 that its vaccine could lead a person to develop a more severe case of dengue when administered to a person who had not been infected by the virus before immunization.
Both houses of Congress have since launched their own investigations into the matter. The Senate blue ribbon committee recommended the filing of criminal charges against Garin, ex-president Benigno Aquino III, former budget chief Florencio Abad, and other officials from the DOH, Sanofi, and Zuellig.
The same officials are now facing various cases before the Supreme Court, Office of the Ombudsman, Department of Justice, and the Commission on Elections. – Rappler.com
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