WITH President Duterte scheduled to sign the 2020 General Appropriations Act today, the Public Attorney’s Office made a last ditch effort yesterday to convince the President to veto the budget cut on PAO’s forensic laboratory expenses, which was allegedly caused by the so-called “Yellow Lawmakers” led by Sen. Franklin Drilon .
According to PAO, the budget cut amounting to P19.5 million was intended for its forensic laboratory and equipment, particularly for the poor litigants in the Dengvaxia-related cases.
In a statement, PAO lawyers and staff nationwide and the agency’s chief Atty. Persida Rueda-Acosta pleaded to the Chief Executive to take a second look and study first the budget cut on the PAO National Budget.
They pointed out that the PAO Budget slash was swayed by the so-called “Yellow Lawmakers” headed by Drilon in order to retaliate for the crusade of PAO after they caused indictment of his ally, Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin.
PAO pleaded to President Duterte to use his veto power with regard to the special provision inserted by the congressional minority led by Cong. Edcel Lagman and Cong. Janette Garin on the limitation imposed on PAO’s use of its budget. This provision prohibits PAO from using its budget in the operation of its Forensic Laboratory Division.
“We, the lawyers and staff of the PAO nationwide join this extremely urgent request. The LAGMAN- GARIN GAA PROVISION is violative of the Constitution and existing laws,” the statement reads.
“We believe in you Mr. President, we believe in your fairness, in your love of justice and rule of law for the 13 million clients of PAO. We implore you to protect the PAO and, its said clients who are the poorest of the poor, the oppressed of our country.”
For her part, Acosta lamented that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) which is primarilly investigating the alleged extra-judicial killings(EJKs), has been given P238.8 million for its forensic services and other related services for the next year.
“CHR is being sponsored and strenghtened by the opposition legislators in the budget deliberations with an increase of budget for GAA 2020’’