A group of parents, whose children’s deaths were linked to the Dengvaxia vaccine, has requested a Quezon City judge to reconsider her decision to void 34 out of 35 cases that they filed. The Samahan ng mga Magulang ang mga Anak ay Biktima ng Dengvaxia (SMABD), led by its president, Sumachen Dominguez, argues that Judge Maria Luisa Gonzales-Betic of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 229 violated a recent resolution of the Supreme Court, which allowed for separate trials of all Dengvaxia-related cases.
The group claims that Gonzales-Betic also disregarded the ruling of another family court judge who handled the cases but recused himself when he rejected several motions to quash the appeal of the accused, led by former Health Secretary Janette Garin.
Accompanied by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), led by Annie Gabito, the members of the group expressed their dissatisfaction with the December 7 order that favored Garin and her co-accused.
Speaking in Filipino, Dominguez said that Gonzales-Betic’s ruling adds to the suffering of the parents.
Gonzales-Betic granted Garin’s motion to reject all but one of the 35 new Dengvaxia cases, citing Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that there should be no splitting of charges and that “only one information shall be filed regardless of the number or severity of the consequences of the imprudent or negligent act.”
The prosecution has been given 15 days to file a single information against all the accused.
“We will definitely file a motion to ask her to inhibit from further handling the case because we believe she violated the rules that the Supreme Court has imposed in connection with the Dengvaxia cases,” the group stated.
They also mentioned that they would file a motion for reconsideration to persuade the judge to reverse her order.
“Our children died due to different complications, aside from the fact that they were inoculated with Dengvaxia at different times and places. So, how can the judge rule that the cases must only be consolidated into just one case? That’s unbelievable!” one parent exclaimed.
Gonzales-Betic’s court was one of the family courts designated by the Supreme Court to handle Dengvaxia-related cases.
Deputy City Prosecutor Irene Resurreccion-Medrano expressed surprise at the judge’s order, stating, “The same motions to quash were already dismissed by the judge from Branch 107 before he decided to recuse himself from the case, which was then transferred to Betic’s court,” according to The Manila Times.
The group emphasized that the court’s denial of the consolidation of cases is clear, as each case should be tried separately because they are not based on the same facts and involve different victims with distinct medical histories.
Gonzales-Betic also handled the first batch of Dengvaxia cases filed by at least eight parents of schoolchildren whose deaths were linked to the controversial dengue vaccine, which was eventually banned by then-president Rodrigo Duterte in 2017.
Garin and at least eight other co-accused pleaded not guilty to the eight cases. Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Forensics Division Chief Dr. Erwin Erfe assisted the prosecution in presenting evidence and witnesses.
PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta stated that the cases filed before the Quezon City family court are separate from the over 160 cases filed by the parents early last year before the Department of Justice, which remain unresolved.
Source: The Manila Times