Aquino says political opponents out to ‘besmirch, demonize’ him through Dengvaxia cases
Former President Benigno Aquino III said his political opponents are obviously out to “besmirch and demonize” him through the various cases – from plunder to mass murder – filed against him related to his administration’s procurement of the anti-dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, two years ago.
“I am a person of their interest whose reputation has to be besmirched, demonized,” Aquino told the Inquirer by phone.
Aquino has been out of the limelight since stepping down from office in 2016, but some of his allies believe that the Dengvaxia cases filed against him were meant to disable and distract the former President from organizing the opposition.
Aquino told the Inquirer that all complaints filed against him before different government agencies were based on the same facts, “just like forum-shopping, only that the practice is applicable in cases filed in court.”
“What happens when [their decisions] are different? Which decision prevails if this was a co-equal agency?” he asked.
Aquino was referring to the investigation initiated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which is an agency under the DOJ.
The DOJ summoned Aquino to its office on May 15 while the NBI asked him to appear for its own investigation on May 25.
Aquino noted that the NBI summons even failed to include the specifics of the case that would have allowed him and his lawyers to prepare for a counter affidavit.
He said, “This action of theirs to go to several different fora… does not help in the speedy disposition of justice and this is indicative of their belief in the weakness of the case, or they have no case at all.”
Last week, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio and the head of the Citizens Crime Watch filed a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Aquino and some of his former Cabinet members. The complaint alleged that they had pocketed part of the P3.5-billion budget for the procurement of Dengvaxia.
It was the third complaint filed against Aquino and his aides before the Office of the Ombudsman.
In December last year, former TESDA head Augusto Syjuco filed a complaint with the Ombudsman, claiming that Aquino had committed plunder and mass murder for the dengue immunization of hundreds of thousands of school children.
Fourteen children who received Dengvaxia had died but there was no evidence that the vaccine caused their deaths. Experts from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) had said six of the children died from other diseases, not dengue.
The Gabriela Partylist group has also filed a separate graft case against Aquino before the Ombudsman.
A Dengvaxia-related complaint was also filed against Aquino before the Commission on Elections (Comelec), claiming the budget for the immunization program was released during the 2016 election ban.
Aquino has denied all the allegations leveled against him.
Aquino’s spokesperson, Abigail Valte, had said that it appears that those who have filed a complaint against the former President are “magically given an appointment” in the current administration./ ee
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