Before he signed the 2021 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) last Monday, President Duterte struck off or vetoed a provision in the GAB introduced by two senators that sought to remove the funding for the forensic laboratories and experts of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
The two senators who introduced the insertion were Juan Edgardo Angara and Franklin Drilon.
In a tweet on Tuesday, PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta thanked Duterte for striking out the provisions introduced by Angara and Drilon that sought to remove the funding of PAO’s forensic laboratories and experts.
“Maraming salamat po President Rodrigo Roa-Duterte sa iyong direct veto sa Sen. Drilon-Angara insertion (prohibition) sa PAO Budget GAA 2021 (Thank you very much President Duterte for your direct veto of the insertion or prohibition of Sen. Drilon-Angara on the PAO’s budget in the GAA),” Rueda Acosta said.
In early December, Acosta submitted an “extremely urgent request” to the Office of the President, citing the one-sentence provision inserted by Drilon and Angara in the GAB 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 and experts. SOVEREIGNPH