House reports on Dengvaxia differ
What a difference a leadership makes.
Before the House of Representatives committees on good government and health on Wednesday voted 14-4 in favor of a report recommending graft, technical malversation and grave misconduct charges against former President Benigno Aquino III, former Health Secretary Janette Garin, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and others for the P3.5-billion dengue vaccination program, Dinagat Rep. Kaka Bag-ao had questioned the report’s conclusions.
Liable vs exonerated
Bag-ao wondered why the new report found Aquino liable while the earlier draft prepared by the panel led by Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel had exonerated the former President.
Pimentel was replaced by Camiguin Rep. Xavier Romualdo in the aftermath of the change in House leadership after Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo unseated then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in July last year.
Though based on the same set of facts and evidence, the conclusions of the report were strikingly different from the draft report released by the panel when it was still chaired by Pimentel.
Romualdo, however, said the earlier document only remained a draft, since it was never put to committee deliberation.
The draft report had cleared Aquino of wrongdoing, finding that his decision was “a judgment call on the part of the previous administration in its effort to respond to what they call an alarming rise in dengue cases in the country.”
But it recommended the filing of “appropriate administrative and criminal cases” against unspecified government officials and employees and private individuals involved in the procurement of Dengvaxia.
Ombudsman should decide
According to Pimentel, the joint House panel took on powers it did not have by recommending criminal charges against Aquino and his health and budget secretaries over the Dengvaxia fiasco.
“In this case, it’s really the Ombudsman who should be the one to decide who would be the persons charged and what charges to file,” said Pimentel, speaking for the first time about the House panel’s action.
In the interview, Pimentel explained why his draft did not recommend charges against Aquino.
“So in my report, it was the same facts, evidence actually that was narrated. The only difference was in the recommendation, because in their recommendation, they included what cases to be filed and the people involved,” he said.
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