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Lacson predicts Senate fight on Gordon's report on vaccine.

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson on Sunday expressed doubts that the Senate would adopt the committee report on the Dengvaxia vaccine controversy that Senator Richard Gordon has released without any amendments.

Lacson said that even though 11 senators have already signed the committee report on Dengvaxia, where Gordon primarily recommended that former President Benigno Aquino III be charged with graft for approving the purchase of P3.5-billion worth of the anti-dengue vaccines, majority signed the report with reservations over this particular proposition.

The senator said he cannot understand how the Senate blue ribbon committee chair was able to come up with such recommendation when Gordon effectively monopolized the conduct of the hearing and already had an end conclusion in mind.

Lacson also noticed Gordon never gave some of the resource persons invited to the hearing a chance to thoroughly explain their side on the issue.

"In the first place, should his committee report be adopted with the way he conducted the hearing? Even Senator JV Ejercito was unable to ask questions that much," Lacson said in an interview over Radio DZBB.

Ejercito is chair of the Senate committee on health and demography, the secondary committee that investigated the Dengvaxia controversy.

"He went as far as hurling insults. So what kind of treatment did he give resource persons? It's evident in the transcripts of the hearing. So during the floor deliberation, we will see how he conducts an investigation and if it is necessary to sign his committee report," Lacson said.

"Because if you look at it, he already has a conclusion from the very start, and he conducted a hearing that would suit that conclusion," he pointed out.

In his committee report, Gordon also tagged Aquino, former Budget Secretary Florencio (Butch) Abad and ex-Health Secretary Janette Garin as the primary conspirators in the Dengvaxia mess for having the approving the project with Sanofi Pasteur, the French manufacturer of the anti-dengue vaccine, despite an incomplete clinical trial of the drug.

Among those who signed the report included Senators Juan Edgardo (Sonny) Angara, Grace Poe, Sherwin Gatchalian, Ralph Recto, Gregorio (Gringo) Honasan II, Ejercito, Juan Miguel (Migz) Zubiri, Vicente (Tito) Sotto III,

But Recto, Senate President Pro Tempore said majority of those who signed, signed with reservations and also opposed the panel's recommendation on Aquino.

Lacson initially commented on the draft report saying he does not believe the former President is capable of committing graft and corruption.

Gordon later on said he is no longer surprised that Lacson would disagree with the findings of his report since he was a former ally of the leader and one who helped him deal with the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

Given the "unreasonable comments" he hurled at him, Lacson said he has made up his mind not to sign Gordon's report.

"Anyway, may majority na naman eh, kaya di na kailangan ng pirma ko dun (majority have already signed the report, so my signature is no longer needed)," he said.

"But during floor deliberations, it's another issue if I will sign for it to be adopted, or how many of us will sign to adopt it without amendments?" he pointed out.

"I doubt (that would happen), kasi ang daming pumirma with reservations eh. At di pa yan, may dissenting report na ginagawa ang minority bloc (many signed the document with reservations. Not only that, the minority bloc is also filing its dissenting report)," Lacson said.

Lacson was referring to the dissenting opinion that Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon has submitted to the blue ribbon committee.

The senator said he might sign the minority report, in the event he finds its recommendations more rational than that of Gordon's.

"There is a possibility that could happen. If the majority of the senators, all of us 23, think that the minority report is more rational and sensible, then that report may be adopted on the floor," he said.

"Even if I am in the majority, I might sign that minority report, if I do see it is more rational. I will sign that as a committee report," Lacson stressed.

CAPTION(S):

Senator Panfilo Lacson (JAY GANZON / MAN ILA BULLETIN)
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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Apr 22, 2018
Words:693
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