By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said it will be up to the Office of the Ombudsman to weigh the charges against Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Rueda-Acosta in connection with the creation of a forensic laboratory within the agency.
“What I know is that there is already a case filed by a certain Mr. Garrido against the PAO chief and it is pending investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman. So (this) request (of) some anonymous PAO lawyers for, I think, suspension in the meantime of the PAO chief, we will leave that to the Office of the Ombudsman. Bahala na si Ombudsman Samuel Martires on that (It is up for Ombudsman Samuel Martires to act on that),” Guevarra told newsmen in a chance interview.
The PAO’s forensics laboratory plays a key role in its effort to litigate victims of the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine controversy involving the premature use of vaccines, which Acosta claims have resulted in several deaths during the past administration.
Guevarra said that while the disposition of the case will be up to the Ombudsman, he had been informed by Acosta and claimed the creation of the office was above board.
“I really cannot comment on that. Because the matter is already being investigated but based on what I know, (it was like) Chief Acosta mentioned to me that the creation of that office was with the approval of the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) but that’s all that I can say. The matter is under investigation,” the DOJ chief said.
The DOJ chief said Acosta insisted that the case is a harassment suit when the PAO chief sought permission to travel abroad.
“She has a proposed trip, I think to Malta but there are certain legal requirements before the chief of the agency, in this case, have to consider before giving the go signal to travel abroad,” Guevarra said. (PNA)