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Ejercito says Noynoy Aquino meetings with Sanofi ‘something to look into,’ urges him to speak up

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 12/7/2017 Merueñas, Mark
Noynoy Aquino © gma news Noynoy Aquino

Former President Benigno Aquino III’s meetings with Sanofi Pasteur prior to the purchase of dengue vaccines is “something to look into,” Senator JV Ejercito said Thursday, as he questioned the timeline of the French pharmaceutical giant bagging the P3.5-billion contract.

“That’s something to look into also... it will be unethical that they were able to bag the P3.5-billion contract and dapat [may] transparency,” Ejercito, chairman of the Senate health committee, said in a press briefing.

“Bakit there were two instances, yung isa hindi pa sa France, [pero] sa China. What were the officials of Sanofi doing in China meeting with our President?” Ejercito added.

Ejercito was referring to Aquino’s meeting with officials of Sanofi last November 9, 2014 in Beijing, China, and on December 1, 2015 in Paris, France.

“Maganda sana kung marinig side niya kasi yung two chance meetings with Sanofi Pasteur officials, siyempre iba maiisip mo eh, diba?” Ejercito said.

In a message to GMA News Online, Aquino’s spokesperson, lawyer Abigail Valte, pointed out that the two meetings were published as part of the former President’s schedule then.

“I’m not sure why some are making it seem that those meetings were clandestine when in fact, we released that information to the media and the public,” Valte said.

But Ejercito still questioned the timing of the said meetings.

“Kung nasa official [schedule], may meeting pa rin, bakit kailangan mag-meeting prior to the decision to procure? Ang mabigat dito, kung talagang may shortcuts and it was done it haste kaya gusto ko tingnan yung timeline,” he said.

In December 2015, the Philippines was the first Asian country to approve the sale of the world’s first dengue vaccine Dengvaxia. The dengue vaccination program began in April 2016 under Health Secretary Janette Garin.

Last week, the Department of Health (DOH) stopped the use of Dengvaxia after Sanofi Pasteur issued a statement setting limits to the use and application of the dengue vaccine.

Sanofi said results of a recent study showed it can actually put at risk people who have not been previously exposed to the virus.

More than 733,000 children, nine years old and above, from public schools in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon were given the first three doses of Dengvaxia since it was launched.

The Blue Ribbon and health committees are scheduled to conduct a joint hearing on December 11 on the issue.

Ejercito said Garin, as well as former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, were invited to attend the probe.

“This will be good chance for her (Garin), Sec. Ubial, and other officials to air their side para maintindihan ano nangyari kasi hanggangn ngayon, hindi naririnig ang panig, may halong galit at emosyon,” he said. — MDM, GMA News

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