Mon. Jun 21st, 2021

Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta is appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte to veto an insertion in the 2021 national budget that will abolish the agency’s forensics laboratory, which is the handiwork of Senators Juan Edgardo Angara and Franklin Drilon.

Acosta submitted an “extremely urgent request” sent to the Office of the President on Thursday afternoon, which said the provision inserted by Drilon and Angara in the 2021 General Appropriations Bill were “illegal and contrary to law; unconstitutional rider, despotic, whimsical and vindictive; and [a] violation of the Civil Service Commission’s rules and regulations.”

Acosta was referring to the one-sentence insertion that stated: “Nothing in the appropriation provided in this act shall be used for the salaries or compensation of personnel, travel allowance, meetings and maintenance and other operating expenses of the PAO Forensic Laboratory Division.”

Dr. Erwin Erfe, the head of the PAO forensics lab, said Angara and Drilon are behind the move as both have an interest in cases filed against Dengvaxia vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc., a client of the ACCRA Law Office of which the senators were once connected with.

PAO helped build up the Dengvaxia cases filed in court through the probes made by its forensic laboratory.

The PAO officials also cited the senators’ move last year to limit the agency’s funding, resulting in its failure to acquire about P19.5 million worth of modern forensics equipment.

It was Duterte who created the agency’s forensice laboratory in 2019. SOVEREIGNPH

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