Bishop seeks punishment of gov’t officials behind Dengvaxia mess

Bishop seeks punishment of gov’t officials behind Dengvaxia mess

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga. CBCPNews

MANILA— A Catholic bishop demanded the prosecution and punishment of government officials responsible for the Php 3.5 billion anti-dengue vaccine fiasco.

With more questions being raised in the ongoing Senate investigation, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said it is critical for liabilities to be determined.

“We urgently and strongly call for full investigation of this serious matter, prosecution and punishment of previous highest government officials,” Santos said.

He lamented that the “negligence and irresponsible” actions of these officials have endangered the lives of more than 800,000 children.

“Life is not an experiment. Life is not trial and error. And life is erroneously lost, wasted by careless and irresponsible decisions of those government officials,” the prelate said.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the Dengvaxia vaccine had been administered to about 830, 000 children in schools and communities and to another 32, 000 private patients since 2016.

The bishop said his diocese, which is within Region 3 or Central Luzon, is not only concerned about the controversy but is also “very much affected”.

A Grade 5 pupil in Mariveles town reportedly died six months after she received a shot of Dengvaxia.

The DOH said that some 205,000 children have undergone anti-dengue vaccination in Central Luzon.

“We are praying for the safety of our schoolchildren and their sound health. May they be spared from sickness and from heartless people motivated by profit, and personal and political interests,” Santos said. NIKKO BALBEDINA/CBCPNews