Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Acosta on Monday, Jan. 18, expressed elation on the decision of Ombudsman Samuel Martires to dismiss the complaint against her and PAO forensic chief Dr. Erwin Erfe over the alleged illegal creation of her office’s own forensic laboratory.
“Marami pong salamat Ombudsman Martires at inyo pong tinuldukan na itong pangha-harass sa amin habang kami po ay nagtatrabaho (Thank you very much Ombudsman Martires for ending this harassment against us while we are doing our job),” Acosta said during a press briefing.
Acosta said her office received Friday last week, Jan. 14, the ruling of the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) over the criminal complaint filed by a certain Atty. Wilfredo Garrido against her and Erfe.
The complaint alleged that the PAO created its own forensic laboratory without authority from Congress.
Because of this, the complainant accused Acosta and Erfe of having violated Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as having committed malversation of public funds and falsification of public documents in violation of the Revised Penal Code (RPC).
The complaint also sought the administrative dismissal from service of Acosta for and Erfe for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, grave abuse of authority, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of public service.
“Tinadtad po kami ng criminal cases dito (We were riddled with cases),” she lamented.
“Gusto niya ako ipakulong pati na si Dr. Erfe na nagtatrabaho lang para sa masa (Garrido wanted me and Erfe jail even though we are just doing our jobs for the masses),” she added.
Acosta believes that the complaint is a harassment case since the PAO is handling cases concerning vaccinees of the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.
“Kaya po kami pinakasuhan dito dahil si Dr. Erfe na direktor ng PAO forensic laboratory as designated ay para matigil ang autopsy ng mga batang namatay sa Dengvaxia (The reason why we were charged was to stop the autopsy of Dengvaxia vaccinees),” she said.
She noted that the PAO has already autopsied a total of 161 vaccinees including her nephew, Sam Gabriel Mendoza.
Acosta reminded that PAO has been following the 2017 order of then Justice Secretary and now National Police Commission (Napolcom) Commissioner Vitaliano Aguirre II to “extend free legal assistance in civil, criminal and administrative cases to all possible victims of Dengvaxia related injuries, illnesses and deaths.”
She said this order also served as one of the reasons why the OMB dismissed the complaint.