Accusations of corruption against Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta will be “judiciously scrutinized,” Ombudsman Samuel Martires said on Friday.
He also confirmed an earlier complaint filed by lawyer Wilfredo Garrido is now undergoing preliminary investigation at the Office of the Ombudsman.
This developed as lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office on Friday came forward and denied allegations of corruption within the agency, saying they have never executed an unsigned manifestation of complaint against Acosta.
Acosta, for her part, said the accusations against her have something to do with the filing of cases involving Dengvaxia-related deaths of schoolchildren before the Department of Justice.
“The corruption allegations against the high-ranking PAO officials will be judiciously scrutinized and the cases shall be resolved solely on the basis of the evidence presented by the parties,” Martires said in a statement.
The Ombudsman said the scrutiny will include the recently filed manifestation by unnamed PAO lawyers accusing Acosta of deliberately overstocking on office supplies used in preparing Dengvaxia cases to be able to “obtain extra funds.”
Martires said that Garrido and Acosta were directed on Aug. 6 to submit their position papers.
Acosta tagged the effort to besmirch the reputation of PAO as “fake news, demolition job, black propaganda, hoax, sham, fictitious and obviously a white paper having been unsigned that should not be given any consideration at all.”
“We are filing a position paper on Aug. 20 and then, motion to submit the case for early resolution for being plain harassments and without factual and legal basis,” she told the Manila Standard.
At least 11 lawyers from PAO’s Executive Support Service, 15 from the Legal Research Service, 68 from the Special and Appealed Cases Service Special and 12 from the Field Operations and Statistics Service have executed a counter manifesto “of real PAO lawyers versus the demolition job by using fictitious manifesto at the Ombudsman.”
“In order to shed light on the matter, the undersigned public attorneys herein, categorically deny the alleged subject anonymous manifestation that has become the subject of fake news,” the group said.
“We did not write the subject manifestation, nay submitted the same to the Office of the Ombudsman,” it added.
“I have been here at PAO for almost two decades. We only have funds for the salaries [of the employees]. What is there to corrupt?” Acosta said.
She and PAO forensics chief Dr. Erwin Erfe, yesterday filed a manifestation with a motion to strike the unsigned manifesto.
“Thus, it [manifestation] must be treated as a mere scrap of paper with no value at all other than to be at the trash bin and deserves scant consideration, hence, must [be] stricken out of the records of this case,” PAO’s counter manifestation read.
Garrido accused Acosta of committing graft when she created the PAO forensics lab, which Garrido said is illegal because only Congress supposedly has the power to create such an office.
Acosta has defended the creation of a forensics lab as having the approval of the Department of Budget and Management.