PRRD still trusts PAO chief amid corruption claims

MANILA Public Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta still has the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte amid corruption allegations, MalacaAang said on Thursday.

Earlier, some PAO lawyers asked the Office of the Ombudsman to preventively suspend Acosta and forensics chief Erwin Erfe over corrupt practices relating to disbursements and allocation of the PAO budget.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said pending investigation, Acosta still has the trust and confidence of the President.

Palagi naman si Presidente, hanggang walang findings of probable cause, palaging nandoon iyong trust (The President has always said the same thing, until there are no findings of probable cause, the trust is still there), Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Panelo, however, said if the Office of the Ombudsman finds probable cause, the President will not interfere in the case.

Pero, kung 'pag may probable cause na, iba nang usapan iyon � then there will be suspension galing sa Ombudsman. Eh hindi naman teritoryo ni Presidente iyon (But if there is probable cause, that's a different story--then there will be suspension from the Ombudsman. That's no longer the territory of the President), he added.

Asked if Palace will ask Acosta to file a leave of absence pending investigation, Panelo said he will leave it to the PAO chief to decide.

Eh nasa ano 'yun eh, na kay Chief Acosta na iyon (That's for Chief Acosta to decide), Panelo said.

In a statement submitted before the Ombudsman, the PAO lawyers accused Acosta of fraud, falsification, and malfeasance in public procurement.

Among the alleged illegal purchases made by Acosta were office supplies used for the Dengvaxia cases.

PAO lawyer Wilfredo Garrido Jr. earlier filed a graft complaint against Acosta.

Despite the pendency of the instant complaint filed by complainant Garrido, respondents Acosta and Erfe, through their cohorts in Financial Planning and Management Service, have a systematic scheme in covering traces of their capricious, illegal, and corrupt practices especially relating to the disbursements and allocation of the PAO budget, the lawyers said.

Acosta, however, denied the lawyers' accusations. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency