Aquino hits 'Dick Gordon show,' draft report on Dengvaxia

MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III slammed Senate blue ribbon committee chairman Richard Gordon and his draft report on the P3.5-billion Dengvaxia controversy.

In his report, Gordon recommended the filing of corruption charges against Aquino, former health secretary Janette Garin, and former budget secretary Florencio Abad, citing alleged haste in the purchase of the dengue vaccine.

In a text message to Rappler, Aquino hit Gordon's conduct of hearings and the senator's subsequent report, calling it a "solo act."

"Was there a panel? It seemed that it was a solo act," Aquino said on Wednesday, April 11.

It was not the first time Gordon was accused of monopolizing inquiries. Even other senators have given up attending Gordon-led hearings because they could not speak or ask resource persons questions.

Aquino, who was a congressman and a senator before he became president, said congressional hearings should first gather facts before reaching a conclusion – which he said was the opposite of Gordon's style.

"In legislative inquiries that I participated in, the process is [to] gather facts then arrive at a conclusion. The Dick Gordon show started with a conclusion and tried to produce facts to support it," the former president said.

Asked to comment on the merits of the report, Aquino said he has yet to read it and would issue a formal statement after.

Upon the Senate blue ribbon committee's invitation, Aquino attended one Gordon-led hearing in December 2017. Gordon insinuated corruption, which Aquino denied at once. (READ: Noynoy Aquino defends rush in buying dengue vaccine)

In a press conference on Wednesday, Gordon blamed the former president for the Dengvaxia controversy.

"The greatest sin and transgression of Aquino was to put the lives of Filipino children in grave peril. He simply did not care. Manhid siya at walang malasakit (He's insensitive and lacks compassion)," the senator said.

Gordon also claimed Aquino's two meetings with vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur in November 2014 and December 2015 violated Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

Aquino's spokesperson Abigail Valte assured the public that the former president would continue to face the allegations against him. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.