Former President Benigno Aquino III in a huddle with former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad during the Senate hearing on Dengvaxia. Photo by Geremy Pintolo, Philippine Star.
MANILA – The Department of Justice has ordered the Bureau of Immigration to place former President Benigno Aquino III and eight others, including three of his Cabinet members, on an immigration lookout bulletin order in case any of them attempt to leave the country while the charges arising from the Dengvaxia controversy are being heard in various forums.
Besides Aquino, listed in the order by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to the BI were Secretaries Janette Garin of Health and Florencio Abad of Budget, his then Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., and several private sector executives: Ruby Dizo, Carlito Realuyo, Guillaume Leroy, Thomas Triomphe and Oliver Brandicourt.
The controversy arose from the Aquino administration’s rushed decision to undertake in early 2016 the mass inoculation of schoolchildren aged 9 and above with the dengue vaccine manufactured by French pharmaceutical Sanofi Pasteur.
Ongoing investigations in the Senate and the House of Representatives have surfaced information that the Aquino Cabinet moved to find the P3.5-billion funding for the program, just before yearend of 2015 — or just a few months before the May 2016 elections — even though it was not provided for in the General Appropriations Act of 2015. Aquino had said at a Senate hearing he made the decision in light of alarming reports of dengue incidence in the country.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre told Immigration chief Jaime Lorente to direct all immigration officers in all airports and seaports to be on the lookout/alert should any of the nine persons pass through immigration counterrs, and alert the DOJ right away.
They were told to coordinate right away with the NBI, which was recently directed to conduct the official investigation into the Dengvaxia mess, which raised widespread concern among parents of vaccinated children, following Sanofi’s November 29 advisory revealing that further assessment showed the vaccine was effective in preventing repeat infections but could trigger “severe” dengue among those who never had infections prior to being injected.