Noynoy Aquino 'perplexed' by NBI Dengvaxia findings vs him
MANILA, Philippines – Former president Benigno Aquino III hit the National Bureau of Investigation’s recommendation of a technical malversation charge against him over the P3.5-billion procurement of dengue vaccines in 2015.
Speaking to Rappler, Aquino said he was “perplexed” at how the NBI reached its findings despite the absence of due process. Aquino said he was asked to submit evidence without being fully informed of the specific allegations against him.
Aquino said after the NBI issued a subpoena, his legal team appeared before the NBI and asked for a copy of the complaint but to no avail.
“After subpoena, sinabi lang (they just said to) submit all your evidence. [My team] asked for a copy of the complaint so we can respond pero walang binigay (but they did not give any),” Aquino told Rappler in a phone interview on Monday, July 16, hours after the document was released.
“Parang blanket lang na (It was just a blanket statement) 'submit evidence.' But evidence as to what? Walang (There were no) questions but they already made their findings. I’m perplexed as how they came up with it [and] on what basis,” Aquino said.
“Eh dito parang ang nangyari: walang exam pero may sagot na,” he added. (What happened here was: there was no exam but there were already answers.)
Aquino maintained that he did not commit technical malversation, saying the savings used for the procurement was allowed by the 2015 General Appropriations Act or the national budget.
In a separate message, Aquino’s spokesperson Abigail Valte said “the process thus far has been vague.”
“As any lawyer would say, it’s difficult to craft a defense based on general allegations, without even being informed of the specific charge to be answered… It is confusing how a respondent can be expected to present his defense without being apprised exactly what he is being accused,” Valte said.
The NBI probe started when former Justice chief Vitaliano Aguirre II asked the agency in December 2017 to conduct a fact-finding probe into the vaccination program, which started during Aquino’s term.
The former president also once again hit the apparent forum shopping of his complainants, as complaints over the same issue are pending before the Department of Justice, its attached agency NBI, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Commission on Elections. (READ: Aquino to suffer same fate as De Lima? It crossed his mind)
Aside from Aquino, the NBI also recommended technical malversation charges againt former budget secretary Florencio Abad and former health secretary Janette Garin.
It also recommended graft, violation of the procurement law, and administrative charges against Garin and other health officials. – Rappler.com