Acosta defends PAO forensic expert: You can’t buy a diploma from Harvard
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Persida Rueda-Acosta defended on Monday the qualifications of her agency’s forensic expert when she faced the House inquiry on the Department of Health’s anti-dengue immunization program, which started during the Aquino administration.
Via a PowerPoint presentation, Acosta showed members of the House committee on good governance and public accountability as well as guests, including former President Benigno S. Aquino III, during the congressional hearing the educational background, credentials, and achievements of PAO forensic expert Dr. Erwin Erfe.
Acosta asserted that Erfe is qualified to speak for PAO as its forensic expert. Erfe is a physician-lawyer appointed to PAO in 2004.
“Si Doctor Erfe kinukwenstyon ng iba na hindi daw mahusay sa forensics, eh siya po ay consultant namin since 2003,” she said.
According to Acosta, Erfe has a certification in public financial management from John F. Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University.
“May certificate po siya sa Harvard. Hindi po naman mabibili ang certificate sa Harvard. Talagang paghihirapan mo po ‘yan,” Acosta noted.
Earlier in the same hearing, Aquino raised questions on the qualification of an unnamed expert, whom the former President merely described as “loud.” He compared the unnamed expert’s certification to that of a fake credential produced in the infamous diploma-mill spot in Recto, Manila.
“Masakit po nito: Lahat na lang po may opinyon, kwalipikado man o hindi, lalo na po ‘yung isang maingay na ang certification ay tila isang antas lang ang lamang sa nabibiling diploma sa Recto,” Aquino said.
In a February 6 newspaper column of Aquino’s spokesperson, lawyer Abigail Valte, she expressed doubts over Erfe’s forensics qualification from the American College of Forensic Examiners Institution (ACFEI), saying the institution had a questionable background.
“Former members and other critics call ACFEI a ‘certification mill’, and ‘expertise on the go’ and these were essentially confirmed when a student named Leah Bartos (with no background in medicine or forensics) was able to become a member after paying 660 USD,” Valte wrote.
“She took an entry level course, was given a 90-minute video to watch and asked to answer an online exam made up of a hundred questions, which she described to be ‘open book’. In two hours, she was told that she could start using the designation ‘forensic consultant’,” she added. /kga
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