Dengvaxia mess: Senators say Aquino acted in good faith, best interest of the people

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MANILA, Philippines  –  While some lawmakers believe ex-President Benigno Aquino III should be held liable over the controversial dengue vaccine program, others defended him; saying the former leader may have just acted ‘in the best interest of the people’.

Opposition senator, JV Ejercito, who chairs the Health committee, said not all information may have been disclosed to the former president in order for the transaction to push through.

“Personally, I think PNoy did it in good faith, to avert dengue outbreak in the future. But it’s the other officials who might have taken advantage and did not give him an extensive report that includes the risk if there was,” said Ejercito on Friday.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, said it is the responsibility of former Health secretary Janette Garin being the president’s alter ego to ‘meticulously vet’ any proposals for public health.

“Clearly in the hearing, the former secretary gave the former president incomplete information about Dengvaxia which made him decide to conduct massive immunization among children,” Gatchalian said.

An ally of Aquino, Senator Joel Villanueva, said they will continue to “seek  accountability and make sure that the health of the vaccinated children will be prioritized”.

“I stand by President Noy, given the circumstances, information and research given and available to him, he acted in the best interest of our people,” the lawmaker wrote on Instagram.

On Thursday, Aquino appeared before the Senate investigation to air his side on the controversial P3.5-B dengue vaccine program.

In defense of his decision to authorize the release of the fund, the former president said it was a decision he made to address the rising cases of dengue during that time.