Aguirre: Palace, health and justice departments agree PAO’s Erfe is a medico-legal officer, not a pathology expert

Foreign pathologist’s opinion on deaths of suspected Dengvaxia victims needed, Aguirre says

(Eagle News) — Erwin Erfe, chief of the Department of Justice’s Public Attorneys Office, is a medico-legal officer and not a pathology expert.

The Palace, Department of Health and the DOJ came to this conclusion in a meeting to determine how the Dengvaxia issue should be handled, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said.

According to Aguirre, as such, Erfe’s opinion on the Dengvaxia deaths should not be considered an “expert” opinion.

“I impressed upon the two, (Health Secretary Francisco) Duque (III) and (Presidential Spokesperson Harry) Roque, that there should be an opinion from a pathologist so that the opinion will be valid,” Aguirre said, noting that this should be a foreign entity so its conclusions would not be questioned.

Despite this, Aguirre said he would not stop the PAO from conducting autopsies on suspected Dengvaxia victims, bucking calls made by a group led by former Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral.

In making the call against the PAO autopsies, the Doctors for Public Welfare said that results of the University of the Philippines Philippine General Hospital study on 14 suspected Dengvaxia victims showed that “none of the deaths of the 14 children autopsied were proven to be due to Dengvaxia.”

The UP PGH panel said of the 14  children studied, three died of dengue.

Two of those three, the panel said, could have experienced “vaccine failure.”

It makes “no sense for any more families to be subjected to the torture of having a loved one exhumed and cut up, only to find out that no useful information was derived from the cruel act,” DPW said.

Erfe had said that the deaths of five of the children he studied were “linked” to Dengvaxia, although he noted that this finding was still inconclusive.

Over 800,000 children were administered the anti-dengue vaccine under the national vaccination program that started during then-President Benigno Aquino III’s term.