Ejercito: Hasty Dengvaxia purchase a case of technical malversation
Take it from Sen. J.V. Ejercito: Government officials who hastily approved the purchase of P3.5-billion worth of Dengvaxia vaccine may be held liable for technical malversation.
“I’m not a lawyer. But as fas as I know, all the procurements of the government should have appropriations approved by Congress,” Ejercito said in a radio interview on Sunday.
“Here, it is very clear that the purchase of the dengue vaccine was not in the GAA [General Appropriations Act],” he said. “At the time, it has yet to be approved [for use[ and it was still not clear if it is effective.”
The senator himself was previously indicted for technical malversation for purchasing high-powered firearms worth P2.1 million using calamity funds when he was still the mayor of San Juan City in February 2008.
But last August, he was acquitted by the Sandiganbayan after prosecutors from the Office of the Ombudsman failed to “present proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
“For me, it’s still a case of technical malversation any way you look at it,” Ejercito said. “It’s because it was not approved by Congress. There was no appropriation for the purchase of P3.5-billion worth of dengue vaccine.”
He noted that former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told the Senate hearing last week that then President Benigno Aquino III approved the procurement of Dengvaxia in December 2015 using the savings of the national government.
“But is it normal?” Ejercito said. “Or is it usual to do that? [Abad] said a president has the prerogative to realign the savings for programs that [are] necessary at the end of the year.”
“But I cannot accept that the use of P3.5 billion (of public funds) was not in the GAA because our Constitution said that the government’s expenditures should have appropriation from Congress,” he added. /atm
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