Acosta to Ombudsman: Junk outright 'overstocking' complaint

MANILA, Philippines – Public Attorney's Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta asked the Office of the Ombudsman to dismiss outright a letter from unnamed lawyers accusing her of deliberately overstocking on office supplies to "obtain extra funds."

"This kind of hoax, sham, fictitious and obviously a white paper having been unsigned, should not be given any consideration at all by this Honorable Body and should not be used in any manner to tarnish the PAO as an institution," said Acosta in a position paper submitted to the Ombudsman on Tuesday, August 20.

The letter was submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman as a supplement to a 2018 complaint against Acosta by lawyer Wilfredo Garrido.

Acosta insisted the letter was part of a demolition job, pointing out that she has secured a manifesto from PAO Central employees that they were not involved in the letter.

Acosta's position paper was submitted after Ombudsman Samuel Martires vowed there will be a "judicious scrutiny" of the allegations against Acosta, including the claims on overstocking. 

Forensic lab

Garrido's complaint, on the other hand, is undergoing preliminary investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman.

Garrido claimed that Acosta illegally created a forensic lab, which is headed by consultant Erwin Erfe.

Garrido said a forensic lab was not provided for in the PAO law and Acosta could not create an office without congressional approval. Acosta said it was enough that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved it.

Garrido said Acosta created her own forensics lab because she would not be able to "conjure evidence" from the police forensic labs.

Acosta said the forensic lab was needed because there was an increase in PAO clients in cases such as domestic violence, child abuse, sexual molestation, torture, and mysterious deaths – all of which needed forensic examinations.

Acosta said the forensics lab "has led to the success of the justice team, through the verdicts of the National Prosecution Service (NPS), and the judiciary."

Acosta added that the complaints against her and her forensics chief Erwin Erfe are not enough legal basis for a preventive suspension.

"The required evidence of guilt in preventive suspension is not strong against the undersigned and Dr Erfe. Complainant is clearly attempting to utilize the power of this Honorable Office to attain his objective of preventing the wheels of justice for the Dengvaxia victims to turn," Acosta said in a position paper submitted to the Ombudsman on Tuesday, August 20.

Preventive suspensions are imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman even before the finding of probable cause. Its intent is to make sure the investigation is not hampered by the continued presence and influence of the officials in the agency.

Acosta insisted that the complaints filed against her and Erfe are mere harassment. 

"The Office of the Ombudsman should not let itself to be utilized as a convenient tool of the complainant herein consummating his malicious and criminal design and scheme of harassing the PAO as a nationwide government agency," Acosta said in the position paper. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.