DOJ issues lookout bulletin vs. Aquino, ex-Cabinet Secretaries over Dengvaxia controversy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 23) — The Justice Department has issued an immigration lookout bulletin for former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and other ex-Cabinet Secretaries after parents of children administered the Dengvaxia vaccine filed a case against them before the Ombudsman.

The bulletin was signed and released by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre Saturday evening.

Aside from Aquino, it lists former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, former Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr., and former Health Secretary Janette Garin. Several Sanofi officials were also included in the lookout order.

 

The bulletin instructs Immigration officers to monitor individuals on the list, but does not necessarily bar them from exiting the country.

The order comes after parents of children who received the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine, assisted by the Gabriela party-list, filed on Friday a graft complaint against the officials.

Aquino and the former secretaries have been criticized over the seemingly hasty implementation of the P3.5 billion dengue vaccination program.

They have denied any irregularities in the purchase of Dengvaxia. Aquino also attended a Committee hearing investigating the Dengvaxia issue to shed light on the controversy.

READ: Groups take Dengvaxia battle to Supreme Court, Ombudsman

“Considering the gravity of the possible offenses which may have been committed, there is a strong probability that they may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal processes of the government by leaving the country,” the bulletin said.

Aside from the graft complaint, Aquino and Garin were earlier slapped with charges of mass murder and plunder over the controversial dengue vaccine program.

READ: Former President Aquino, ex-health officials face mass murder, plunder complaint over Dengvaxia mess

Dengvaxia was administered to over 800,000 Filipino students in a school-based government immunization program last April 2016.

Sanofi Pasteur later announced the vaccine had potentially severe dengue risks among those who have no dengue history. The vaccine maker claims there were no reported deaths caused by Dengvaxia, and it remains safe.

The ensuing panic prompted the Health Department to suspend its program and the Senate to investigate the P3.5 billion spent on it.

Both Senate and the House of Representatives have also held hearings to investigate the issue.

CNN Philippines Anjo Alimario and Amanda Lingao contributed to this story.