The new leadership of the House of Representatives has been urged on Tuesday, Oct. 13, not to slash the budget that President Duterte had allotted for the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO).
“Kaya kung meron pong pagbabago ngayon sa liderato dito sa Kongreso ako ay naniniwala na hindi na po maaapi ang mga biktima at ang mga inihanda ng Pangulo para sa PAO assistance ay hindi na po matatapyas,” said PAO Chief Persida Acosta during the Laging Handa Public Brtiefing on Tuesday.
(If there is now a change of leadership in Congress, I believe that victims will no longer be oppressed and the budget the President had prepared for PAO assistance will not be slashed.)
On Oct. 12, 186 lawmakers voted to have Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco installed as the new House Speaker.
Acosta recounted that Duterte had allotted P19.5 million for the 2020 budget of the PAO forensics laboratory but was slashed in Congress.
“Ang atin pong pakiramdam ay parang hindi ginalang ang gusto ng Pangulo sa forensics 2020 budget sa taong ito (We felt that the President’s budget allotment for the PAO forensics lab for this year was not respected),” she said.
During the speakership of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Acosta said Iloilo 1st District Rep. Janette Garin and Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman led the push for slashing the 2020 budget of PAO.
Pursuant to the 2017 order of then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, the PAO has been representing the families of persons who died after having received doses of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
Garin, who had been health secretary when the controversial vaccine was used, is among those sued by the families over her alleged liability for these deaths.