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Dengvaxia complainants counter Dr. Lo’s affidavit

PHILSTAR/EDD GUMBAN

THE FAMILY of nine alleged Dengvaxia victims have questioned the admission of the affidavit of Dr. Raymundo W. Lo, submitted for former Health secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin, saying he is part of the team that purchased the controversial dengue vaccine.

In their counter-manifestation filed before the Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday, the complainants, through the Public Attorney’s Office, said Mr. Lo’s credibility is “seriously in question” as he served at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC), which purchased the Dengvaxia.

“It is not surprising for Dr. Lo to negate the PAO Forensic Team’s findings to the extent of attempting to destroy the credibility of Dr. (Erwin P.) Erfe, because he was with PCMC during the time of the latter’s purchase of the experimental vaccine Dengvaxia and even until now when cases have already been filed against his colleagues in the PCMC and the DoH (Department of Health),” the counter-manifestation read.

In the affidavit he filed, Mr. Lo stated that he served as deputy executive director for professional services at the PCMC from 2006 to 2016 and is currently the chief of the PCMC Division of Pathology.

Ms. Garin asked the DOJ to admit the supporting affidavits of Mr. Lo, who willingly “came forward to incisively explain and shed light on the significant medical and scientific issues” relevant to the case.

The complainants also stated that they “highly object” Mr. Lo’s claim that Mr. Erfe conducts autopsy examination for the purpose of linking the Dengvaxia to the deaths of the victims.

“The forensic examinations being conducted by the PAO Forensic Team are in the nature of criminal investigations pursuant to the request of families of the Dengvaxia victims who died and pursuant to the DOJ directive,” they stated.

It was also stressed in the counter-manifestation that the findings of the PAO Forensic Team are consistent with the declaration of Sanofi Pasteur, Inc., the Dengvaxia manufacturer, that the four fatal and serious side effects and risks of Dengvaxia are: “allergic/anaphylactic reaction, viscerotropism and nuerotropism, increase in severity of dengue disease from the start of vaccination and waning protection against dengue disease overtime.”

PAO Chief Persida V. Rueda-Acosta also said Mr. Lo does not have personal knowledge as he did not conduct the autopsy on the cadavers.

The PAO has already filed 17 complaints in connection with the deaths allegedly linked to Dengvaxia and will file another set of more than 10 cases on Oct. 30.

Ms. Rueda-Acosta also noted that the Forensic Team has autopsied 92 bodies linked to Dengvaxia. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Duterte has basis for ‘Red October,’ but plot not a threat — PNP

THE POLICE do not regard the supposed plot to oust the President, dubbed “Red October”, as a threat at the moment, but it is still a concern for them.

“We don’t see it as a threat as of this time but it can be a concern. For some, it can be a concern, but we do not treat it as a threat as far as the PNP (Philippine National Police) is concerned. I don’t know with other agencies,” PNP Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said in a press briefing on Monday, Oct. 1.

Mr. Albayalde believes that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has basis for the alleged ouster plot.

“I think there is a basis for that. Remember the President has an unlimited access to information…There’s a reason for this and he has a basis for that,” Mr. Albayalde said.

Mr. Duterte earlier said that communist rebels led by exiled Jose Maria Sison, the Liberal Party (LP), and the Magdalo group are planning to oust him.

The LP and Magdalo group have denied the allegation.

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Antonio G. Parlade, Armed Forces of the Philippines deputy chief of staff for operations, told reporters yesterday that some militant groups are planning to hold a protest on October 17.

However, Mr. Albayalde said they are still investigating if it is connected with “Red October.”

Mr. Albayalde warned workers against joining rallies which, he said, are being used by militant groups. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

House ethics committee mulls probe on Bertiz over airport incident

THE AIRPORT incident involving ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto D. Bertiz III may be taken up by the House of Representatives committee on ethics.

“We’re gathering all the narratives of the event, but at the same time, i have consulted the leaders of the minority… there may be a possibility that it may have to be taken up in the Ethics Committee,” Minority Leader Danilo E. Suarez told reporters in a chance interview Monday.

When asked how the chamber will proceed with the case, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said removing Mr. Bertiz from his seat as ACTS-OFW representative should not only go through the House of Representatives Tribunal, but also the Commission on Elections.

Mr. Bertiz over the weekend was caught on CCTV confronting an airport security personnel after he refused to follow certain protocols.

The Solon had since apologize for his actions.

“There is absolutely no justification for the way I conducted myself. I sincerely apologize not only to the security assistant that I confronted, but also to the public for my actions,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a photo of a letter supposedly terminating Mr. Bertiz as part of the ACTS-OFW partylist had circulated online, but he dismissed it as “fake and bogus.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan

Robredo hopes for return of P100-M fund as P448-M OVP budget gets House OK

THE P447.68-MILLION proposed budget of the Office of the Vice-President (OVP) hurdled plenary deliberation at the House of Representatives, Monday.

“We welcome the swift approval of our office’s 2019 budget at the House of Representatives today. However, we still remain hopeful that our request to reinstate some P100 million, which was removed from our original proposal, will be included in the final General Appropriations Act,” Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo said in a statement yesterday.

The P447.68-million allocation is lower than the OVP’s 2018 budget of P543.95 million and the 2019 OVP proposal of P549 million.

“This amount will be of great help to the local government units and the communities that we are helping, under our Angat Buhay program. There is still much work left to be done in our goal to lift our fellow Filipinos from poverty, and we are looking at our lawmakers’ goodwill to help us make this happen,” she said.

At the Senate, the committee on finance chaired by Senator Loren B. Legarda granted on Sept. 25 the P549.60 million OVP budget.

“With or without your asking, the committee would have initiated the restoration of the present year’s amendment,” Ms. Legarda told Ms. Robredo during the panel hearing. — Charmaine A. Tadalan