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Huling hirit! Acosta runs to Duterte to reverse PAO budget cut

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Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta has asked President Rodrigo Duterte not to allow the budget cuts of the PAO forensic lab by vetoing this provision in the 2020 budget.

“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, which is presently composed of eight plantilla personnel,” read her December 11 letter to Duterte.

Acosta told Duterte the provision was inserted in the general appropriations bill “limiting the use of MOOE to the effect that no funds may be used for the meetings and other maintenance and operating expenses of the PAO Forensic Laboratory.”

She complained that several legislators have already made the deletion from the 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP) of the President and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) of the 19.5 Million Pesos allocated for the purchase of equipment of the PAO-Forensic Laboratory Division.”

“These modifications in the President’s budget or the NEP have only one objective – to paralyze the PAO Forensic Laboratory and jeopardize its operations, depriving them the opportunity to assist the clients of the PAO,” Acosta declared.

“Notably, the PAO Forensic Laboratory Division’s most controversial case as of the moment is the Dengvaxia controversy, which involves the purchase and indiscriminate mass vaccination without informed consent and proper screening of the experimental vaccine Dengvaxia by the Department of Health (DOH), spearheaded during the term of the former Administration, with now Congresswoman Janette L. Garin as then DOH Secretary,” she stressed.

Acosta said the budget slash not only affect the probes sought by the families of Dengvaxia victims but also made “at the expense of the PAO’s existing and future clients composed of victims of torture, rape, VAWC (violence againstr women and children), physical injuries, and mysterious deaths and cases, as well as accused in criminal cases.”

“We most humbly submit that the deletion of the budget for the PAO Forensic Laboratory Division’s equipment, and the prohibition for the use of funds for its operations, run contrary to the constitution, the law, and the proprietary rights of its eight (8) complement plantilla personnel,” she stated.

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