PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta. (PNA file photo)

MANILA — Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta on Monday reiterated her agency will not back down in pursuing criminal charges against those responsible for the death of schoolchildren erroneously subjected to the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine.

“Tuluy-tuloy ang pag-file namin (We will continue with the filing). We now have 147 victims,” Acosta told reporters during the latest filing of charges at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Acosta reiterated her plea to the Supreme Court to hasten the designation of a special family court that will handle the charges stressing that these cases “involve children of tender age”.

The DOJ on Monday gave more time to former Health secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, incumbent Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and others implicated in the deaths of schoolchildren inoculated with anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia to answer the charges.

This, after some of the respondents failed to file their counter-affidavits during resumption of preliminary investigation at the DOJ.

“Dapat magpa-file ng reply at counter-affidavit ang mga respondents kaso hindi naman lahat nakapag-submit. So may hearing ulit sa Biyernes alas diyes ng umaga dito sa DOJ. Binigyan sila ng chance makapag-submit kung ano dapat nila i-submit (The respondents were supposed to file counter affidavits but not all were able to do so. There will be another hearing on Friday to give them a chance to file),” Acosta explained.

Garin, along with several others, has been charged in connection with the deaths of six pupils who received Dengvaxia anti-dengue shots.

Represented by PAO, parents of Aldrid Aberia, Micaella Mainit, Eira Mae Galoso, Riceza Salgo, Leiden Alcabasa, Jonnel Dacquel, Kenchie Ocfemia, Angelica Pulumbarit, John Marky Ferrer, Maricel Manriza, Charmel Flordeliz and Annaliza Silver filed the complaints.

They accused Garin and other respondents of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code; torture resulting in the death of a person and torture committed against children under Republic Act 9745, the Anti-Torture Act of 2009; and for violating RA 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines, particularly, the mislabeling of drugs and devices, liability for defective products, and liability for product and service imperfection.

The other respondents were former and incumbent officials of the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippine Children’s Medical Center and executives of pharmaceutical firm Sanofi Pasteur and local distributor Zuellig Pharma.