MANILA – Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito said Friday he believes former president Benigno Aquino III acted “in good faith” when he allowed the purchase of PHP3.5-billion worth of Dengvaxia dengue vaccine during his term.
“I’m not a fan of (former) President Aquino. We have different (political) colors, but I must say that after yesterday, I can see that he acted in good faith,” Ejercito said in a radio interview.
Ejercito made the remark after hearing Aquino’s testimony during Thursday’s Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probe into the purchase of the controversial dengue vaccine.
He, however, said there is still a chance that other officials are to blame for failing to give Aquino an extensive report that the vaccine posed certain risks.
“As President, he must have assumed it underwent all tests, all drug trials before it was approved because it was recommended to him. He is only dependent on information given to him,” Ejercito added.
The senator further said that perhaps the reason why not all information were disclosed was so that the transaction would push through.
He said the World Health Organization (WHO) even released a statement that they did not have a position on whether or not to recommend the vaccine.
WHO, he said, merely guided countries in making a decision to purchase certain drugs but the decision to administer the vaccine rests on the government.
It may be recalled that Dengvaxia, which was purchased during the Aquino administration in 2015, was later reported to pose risks to those who have not been previously infected by the virus.
The health department has suspended its immunization program. (PNA)