Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda Acosta has asked President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the proposal to slash her agency’s budget, saying it was unconstitutional.
“The deletion of the budget for the PAO Forensic Laboratory Division’s equipment, and the prohibition on the use of PAO’s MOOE (maintenance of operating expenses) for its operations — effectively intended to stop the PAO Forensic Laboratory Division’s operation, are unconstitutional,” she said in a letter to the Chief Executive.
She argued that the PAO Forensic Laboratory Division was created by law.
Acosta stressed that in order to ensure accurate evidence in presenting the cases of their clients, who are poor litigants, forensic science is necessary.
The P19.5-million budget intended for the PAO Forensic Laboratory was transferred by the Senate to the National Bureau of Investigation without prior notice.
The PAO chief said the budget for forensics could not be diverted just like that. In case there is conflict of interest where law enforcers are the accused, PAO must conduct its own forensics, she said.
“The President must veto the General Appropriations Act for 2020 with regard to the special provision inserted by the minority led by Rep. Edcel Lagman,” Acosta said in a statement.
The PAO had filed charges against Health officials, former Health secretary Janette Garin and executives of Sanofi Pasteur Inc. in connection with the deaths of several children who were inoculated with Dengvaxia.