Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta continues to push President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the fund slash of the PAO forensic laboratory in the 2020 budget.
This time, some 200 of her PAO subordinates signed and sent a letter to Duterte appealing to veto the provision “veto the inserted special provision in the General Appropriations Bill, limiting the PAO in the use of its MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) and prohibiting the use of funds for the meetings and other maintenance and operating expenses of the PAO Forensic Laboratory Division.”
“It has come to our attention that the House of Representatives minority, led by Rep. Edcel Lagman, introduced amendments to the National Expenditure Program (NEP)/General Appropriations Bill affecting the PAO,” the letter read.
“Provision/s was/were reportedly inserted limiting the use of Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE), such that no funds may be used for the meetings and other maintenance and operating expenses of the PAO Forensic Laboratory,” it added.
It also appealed to Duterte to “ensure the continuous and improved delivery of forensic services to the millions of Filipino poor clients of PAO, by allowing the purchase of the necessary forensic equipment for the PAO Forensic Laboratory Division, which may be derived from available appropriation allocated to the PAO by the President and the DBM (Department of Budget and Management).”
The letter cited that, aside from the MOOE limitations, the lab’s P19.5 million budget meant for the purchase of equipment was also deleted by lawmakers.
“We most humbly submit that PAO clients should not be made dependent on forensic findings of either the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), or the Commission on Human Rights (CHR),” the letter said.
It explained the findings of the PAO forensic lab can be used by the PAO’s indigent clients in refuting findings of forensic examinations made by the PNP, NBI or CHR.