PAO lawyers denounce anonymous report to Ombudsman

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OVER A hundred lawyers under the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) said that a recent report of PAO lawyers calling for the suspension of PAO Chief Persida V. Rueda-Acosta was part of a “demolition job” meant to malign the PAO.

This as the Office of the Ombudsman said in a statement release Friday that it is conducting a “preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication” against Ms. Acosta and forensics team chief Erwin Erfe “on corruption allegations within the agency including the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine issue.”

The statement quoted Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires as saying, “the corruption allegations against the high-ranking PAO officials will be judiciously scrutinized and the cases shall be resolved solely on the basis of the evidence presented by the parties.”

On Thursday, 107 PAO lawyers filed a “Manifesto (Re: Malicious Imputations against PAO Lawyers)” dismissing the claims made in an pleading sent to the Ombudsman on AUg. 8 asking for the preventive suspension of Ms. Acosta and Mr. Erfe for allegedly defrauding the government. The pleading was filed by persons who claimed they are public attorney’s under the Executive Support Staff, Field Operations and Statistics Service, and Legal Research Service departments of the PAO-Central Office, but who did not otherwise identify themselves.

The anonymous statement was an pleading related to the complaint filed in May by Wilfredo M. Garrido, Jr. against the Ms. Acosta and Mr. Erfe for falsification of public documents, malversation of public funds, illegal use of public funds, grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and grave abuse of authority.

“The undersigned public attorneys herein CATEGORICALLY DENY the alleged subject anonymous manifestation that has become the subject of fake news. We did not write the subject manifestation, nay submitted the same to the Office of the Ombudsman,” the 107 PAO lawyers said in their manifesto.

The lawyers added that the claims made in the anonymous pleading were “fabricated” and that it was meant “to malign the PAO and other named officials therein, and prevent them from independently performing their duties.”

Both the Department of Justice (DoJ) and Malacañang declined to get involved in the complaint against the PAO Chief, adding that they will leave it up to Ombudsman Martires to further investigate the matter. — Gillian M. Cortez