By Jeffrey Damicog
Former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III Tuesday accused the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) of violating his right to due process in its investigation over his alleged involvement in the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine mess.
“Hindi ko naintindihan kung pano nagkaroon ng due process doon (I don’t understand how was there due process in its investigation),” Aquino told reporters.
The former Chief Executive said he was surprised that the NBI had come out with its findings and filed a criminal complaint last Monday before the Office of the Ombudsman recommending that he be indicted for technical malversation under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
During the course of the NBI probe, Aquino recounted that he only received a subpoena once which summoned him to the NBI on May 25.
“This was the only time we were required to show up. My lawyers were the ones who actually represented me. I was told that my presence was not necessary,” he recalled
“Tapos ang nangyari, wala nang further communcations from them. Kaya nagulat ako nung lumabas sa media (After that there was no more communication from them. That’s why I was surprised when I learned from the media that the NBI has filed a complaint),” he pointed out.
Aquino stressed that it was important for the NBI during its investigation to inform him what he was actually being accused of.
“Fundamental kasi yung the right of the accused to know the accusation and to face the accusers,” he said.
The former President noted that during the May 25 hearing the NBI did not make clear to his lawyers what were the evidence against him and who filed the complaint before the NBI.
In his recommendation letter to Ombudsman Carpio Morales, NBI Director Dante Gierran recommended that Aquino be indicted for technical malversation since the former President authorized the use of savings from the 2015 Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF) “to ‘augment’ a non-existent anti-Dengue immunization program.”
Gierran said that from the fund P3.5 billion was used for the procurement of Dengvaxia for the National Capital Region (NCR), and Regions III and IV-A where around 830,000 received shots of the still experimental vaccine. From those who got inoculated, over 200 are believed to have died because of it.
“Review of the 2015 GAA (General Appropriations Act) finds no reference to any item or program, activity or project for the procurement of anti-dengue vaccine in particular,” he pointed out.
Aquino explained that the MPBF is used to pay the salary and other benefits of government employees.
Since there are times savings are made, he said the money can be used for other things.
“Ang in-authorize ng General Appopriations Act ng 2015, na pwedeng gamitin yung mga savings pampuno doon sa mga may kulang na appropriated items (The 2015 GAA allows the savings to be used where there are shortages of appropriated items),” he said.
Aquino was at the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday to file his rejoinder in the ongoing preliminary investigation being conducted over the complaint filed against him also concerning the Dengvaxia mess.
The complaint was filed last Feb. 12 by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Inc. (VPCI).
In their complaint, the VACC and VPCI accused Aquino and his co-respondents of violating Section 3(e) of Republic Act (RA) 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; technical malversation under Section 65(3) of RA 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act; and reckless imprudence resulting multiple homicide through criminal negligence under Article 365 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).