PAO lawyers deny seeking suspension of Acosta, Erfe

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 15 2019 11:28 PM

MANILA— More than 100 lawyers of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) on Thursday denied calling for the suspension of the agency's head, Persida Acosta, and forensics chief Dr. Erwin Erfe.

In a manifesto signed by some 106 public attorneys, they said they didn't ask the Office of the Ombudsman for the preventive suspension of Acosta and Erfe over allegations of corruption.

"Obviously, the manifestation was fabricated by someone else; unscrupulous person/s who resort to shady schemes and strategies to advance their personal cause," part of the manifesto read.

"As we perceive it, the malicious and derogatory statements contained therein are intended to malign the PAO and other names officials therein, and prevent them from independently performing their duties," it added.

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PAO lawyers deny seeking suspension of Acosta, Erfe

PAO lawyers deny seeking suspension of Acosta, Erfe

PAO lawyers deny seeking suspension of Acosta, Erfe

PAO lawyers deny seeking suspension of Acosta, Erfe

PAO lawyers deny seeking suspension of Acosta, Erfe

PAO lawyers deny seeking suspension of Acosta, Erfe

Lawyer Wilfredo Garrido Jr. earlier filed a manifestation for unnamed PAO lawyers from the Executive Support Staff Field Operations and Statistics Office and Legal Research Service who are “privy to the daily activities and transactions” of Acosta and Erfe relating to the Dengvaxia vaccine.

The manifestation asked the Office of the Ombudsman to issue a preventive suspension order against Acosta Erfe for alleged corruption in the agency.

It alleged that Acosta has two “loyal” certified public accountants named Lira Hosea Suangco and Maveric Sales who are tasked to maintain office supplies such as bond paper to be used for the Dengvaxia cases.

“When the funds were released, it was immediately surrendered to respondent Acosta. The funds that were intended for the purchase of office supplies were never used for its intended purpose,” the complaint said.

Acosta, who has been criticizing the use of the Dengvaxia vaccine during the term of former president Benigno Aquino III, was also accused of using purchase orders to be able to obtain extra funds for the agency.

“Respondent Acosta has ordered her cohorts to edit, revise and antedate PAO’s purchase requests, purchase orders, procurement forms, memoranda, and other documentation in order to make it seem legitimate and to justify the diversion of the PAO’s budget to the Dengvaxia victims,” the complaint said.

It was also alleged that Acosta and Erfe are using PAO funds to purchase tarpaulins, T-shirts and coffins to be used in rallies.

There was also a “workshop” on “pending Dengvaxia cases” in June this year at the Century Park Hotel.

Acosta said the complaint was a "demolition job" and "media blitz" meant to "harass PAO and its attorneys and staff by using fake, falsified document."

She said such act was punishable under the Revised Penal Code.

"The manifestation is a mere scrap of paper... no evidence attached to substantiate the mere allegations... anybody who would use such can be charged of libel and use of falsified document," she said when asked to comment.

Sought for comment, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he would leave it up to the Office of the Ombudsman to act on the PAO lawyers' complaint.
 
“I really cannot comment on that because that is already being investigated. But based on what I know, Chief Acosta mentioned to me that the creation of that office was with the approval of the DBM. But that’s all that I can say because the matter is under investigation,” he said.

PAO is under the Department of Justice. - with reports from Adrian Ayalin and Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News