Ex-budget secretary may face malversation charge

Former budget secretary Florencio Abad may face charge of technical malversation for the realignment of P3.5 billion from government savings to procure Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccines without congressional endorsement, according to The Manila Times Online report on Sunday.

Besides Mr Abad, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito said that former president Benigno Aquino 3rd could be held liable for the controversial procurement under the principle of command responsibility.

During the resumption of the Senate hearing on the vaccine procurement deal with Sanofi Pasteur on Thursday, Abad admitted that the fund used to purchase the vaccine in December 2015 came from government savings and not from General Appropriations Act.

Aquino earlier explained that he endorsed the release of the fund through former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa because they had no more time to ask Congress to determine funding sources.

Both Senator Ejercito and Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, agreed that the controversial procurement deal was done “in haste”.

Senator Ejercito rejected Abad’s claim that the realignment savings from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund was a “regular practice” and the president has the discretion to use it.

“I don’t buy that excuse from Secretary Abad that this is usual practice and it is the prerogative of the president to realign savings at the end of the year”, said the senator.