MANILA (UPDATE) - Former President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday accused the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) of denying him due process when it lodged a criminal complaint in connection with his administration's P3.5 billion anti-dengue immunization drive.
The NBI, he said, deprived him of opportunity to present evidence in his defense before it filed technical malversation raps against him at the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday.
"Mayroon ba talagang pagsusuring ginawa dahil walang tanungang nangyari,” he told ABS-CBN News.
(Did they really conduct an investigation because there was no questioning that happened.)
"Tinanong ng mga abugado ano bang ebidensya na dapat naming dalhin, hindi tinukoy. Wala ring ikinlaro nung nagpunta ang ating mga abugado," he added.
(My lawyers asked what evidence should we bring, they did not specify. Nothing was also clarified when our lawyers went to them.)
The NBI had said the Aquino administration used the 2015 miscellaneous personnel benefit fund (MBPF) to bankroll its school-based immunization campaign.
"Although the source of fund was declared as savings by the Chief Executive, its intended purpose failed as there is no existing programs, activity or project for dengue procurement and immunization,” the NBI said.
Also tagged in the complaint were former health secretary Janette Garin, former budget secretary Florencio Abad, and several others.
Aquino is facing a separate complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and the Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. in connection with the anti-dengue drive.
Appearing before the Department of Justice to submit his rejoinder affidavit, Aquino reiterated the funds used for the vaccines were unused and considered as savings.
“In-authorize ng General Appropriations Act ng 2015 na pwedeng gamitin ang savings pampuno doon sa mga may kulang na appropriated items,” he said.
(The 2015 General Appropriations Act authorized that we could use savings for the remaining items without funding.)
The procurement of the world-first Dengvaxia dengue vaccine, he added, was above board.
Aquino said he is ready to face the case before the anti-graft office though neither the NBI nor the Ombudsman has given him a copy of the charges.
The Department of Health late last year stopped the Dengvaxia vaccination drive after French drug maker Sanofi said the vaccine might increase the risk of severe dengue in recipients who have not had the mosquito-borne illness.
Some 800,000 public school children have received the vaccine.
--Report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News