Manila, Philippines – Former Health Secretary and current Iloilo Representative Janette Garin has posted bail for graft and technical malversation charges related to the controversial Dengvaxia dengue vaccine purchase. Garin maintained her innocence in the case.
According to Philippines News Agency, government funds to procure the Dengvaxia vaccine, valued at PHP3.5 billion. According to Garin, her co-accused, including former Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo, former DOH officer in charge Director Maria Joyce Ducusin, former Health Undersecretary Kenneth Hartigan-Go, and former Philippine Children’s Medical Center executive director Julius Lecciones, have also posted bail.
Garin remarked, “Posting bail is part of the agonizing process to prove our innocence. It is a crucial step in ensuring a fair trial and safeguarding one’s rights.” She expressed hope that this initial step would lead to a timely resolution of the case, which has significantly impacted public confidence in vaccines, resulting in measles and polio outbreaks in the Philippines. Garin stressed, “Resolving the issue once and for all is aligned to the Doctors for Truth clamor because global history has taught us that any vaccine demonized usually spreads to include other vaccine-preventable diseases and results in outbreaks.”
The Ombudsman’s investigation revealed that the procurement of Dengvaxia from Sanofi Pasteur in 2016 was not part of the health department’s expanded immunization program (EPI) and that the vaccines were not listed in Volume 1 of the Philippine National Drug Formulary, violating Executive Order 49, series of 1993, and related administrative orders and issuances. The recommended bail was set at PHP90,000 per respondent in the graft case, and PHP18,000 each in the technical malversation case. Over 800,000 school children were vaccinated in 2016 with Dengvaxia, before Sanofi announced potential adverse effects on those without prior dengue infection.