By Jeffrey Damicog
Former President Benigno (Noynoy) Aquino III still has a chance to refute the criminal complaint he is facing before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) regarding the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine mess, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured on Wednesday.
Guevarra responded after Aquino questioned the decision of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to file the complaint before the OMB.
“The former President and the other respondents will be given the opportunity to controvert the charges during the formal investigation to be conducted by the OMB, in much the same way that they were accorded due process when a similar complaint was filed earlier with the DOJ,” said the Secretary.
The DOJ is currently conducting a preliminary investigation over the complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution, Inc. (VPCI) against Aquino and his co-respondents over the Dengvaxia controversy.
“The NBI performs a fact-finding function only. It’s the OMB/DOJ which does the preliminary investigation, where respondents are given their day in court,” Guevarra added.
Guevarra noted that the fact-finding investigation conducted by the NBI was done in accordance with the order issued by his predecessor, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
Last Monday, the NBI filed a criminal complaint and asked the OMB to prosecute Aquino and his co-respondents for committing technical malversation under Article 220 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
Aquino yesterday 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 paano 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.
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 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 was the evidence against him and who filed the complaint before the NBI.