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Anong plunder, Dick? JV says Abad, Garin could be liable for technical malversation in Sanofi dengue mess

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Senator JV Ejercito on Sunday said he doesn’t agree with Senator Dick Gordon’s assessment that former Budget Secretary Butch Abad and Health Secretary Janet Garin were liable for plunder in the procurement of the P3.5 billion worth of defective dengue vaccine from Sanofi.

“(Pero) para sa akin, ‘yan po ay – kahit saan mo tingnan – technical malversation (ito),” Ejercito said in a radio interview,.

“Sa tingin ko, kailangan pa ng imbestigasyon para mabigyan ng pagkakataon sina Garin at Abad kung ano ba talaga ang nangyari, bakit nagkaganun, na itong transaction na ito ay natuloy gayung wala itong pahintulot or wala ito sa national budget na dapat Kongreso ang nag-approve,” he added.

Former Pres. Benigno Aquino III, Ejercito said, could be held liable based on command responsibility.

“May negligence (on his part) dahil kinakailangan dyan due diligence,” he said, adding that there’s jurisprudence similar cases in the past.

“I’m not a lawyer pero parang mas mabigat ang sala nung mga underlings, yung mga secretaries, kumbaga sila dapat ay nagsagawa ng due diligence,” the senator said.

Ejercito disputed the assertions made by Abad in the Senate hearing last Thursday that there was nothing wrong in using MPBF to fund an item that existed in the General Appropriations Act (GAA). He said the savings would no longer be usable after Dec. 31 as it would be reverted back to the treasury.

In the said hearing, the senator noted to Abad that the dengue vaccine was not in the GAA But the latter claimed that the appropriation item was the Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI).

In an interview with dzBB Sunday, the senator said his reasearcg showed dengue vaccine was not included in the vaccination program under the EPI.

“So hindi sya kasama talaga sa GAA. Nakakalungkot, abogado pa naman si Abad,” he said.

“Alam naman ni Abad ‘yan (that they could be committing technical malversation). Hindi ako abogado, pero sa aking pagkakaalam, ang lahat ng dapat pagkakagastusan or lahat ng program ng ating pamahalaan, meron dapat tinatawag na appropriations na nanggaling sa Kongreso at yun yung national budget or GAA. At dito, malinaw na malinaw na wala po ang purchase ng dengue vaccine,” Ejercito said.

At that time the dengue vaccine was yet to be approved for sure and only when it was approved, supposedly by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that a go signal was given for its procurement.

“Sinasabi ni Abad na may prerogative daw ang Pangulo to realign. Okay (that’s the case) kung may emergency pero sa akin, dapat nasa GAA pa rin yan,” he said.