Lookout bulletin issued vs Aquino, Garin over Dengvaxia
The DOJ is keeping the LBO, which was issued by former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II in December last year when a key witness surfaced to spill the beans on the P3.5-billion dengue immunization program, also after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed charges of technical malversation of public funds against Aquino, Garin and Abad before the Office of the Ombudsman earlier this week.
Edd Gumban
Lookout bulletin issued vs Aquino, Garin over Dengvaxia
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - July 20, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former president Benigno Aquino III may not leave the country amid a string of criminal charges he is facing over the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said yesterday.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed that the lookout bulletin order (LBO) issued against Aquino, former health secretary Janette Garin and former budget secretary Florencio Abad Jr. stays as the DOJ has yet to resolve the charges of multiple homicide and physical injuries through negligence under the Revised Penal Code, malversation of public funds and violations of Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and RA 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) filed against them by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. last February.

The DOJ is keeping the LBO, which was issued by former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II in December last year when a key witness surfaced to spill the beans on the P3.5-billion dengue immunization program, also after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed charges of technical malversation of public funds against Aquino, Garin and Abad before the Office of the Ombudsman earlier this week.

“The LBO issued on them is not yet lifted,” Guevarra told reporters.

The DOJ chief explained that since Aquino and the other respondents are covered by the LBO, they would have to “first seek permission (from his office) before they could leave the country” upon issuance of an allow departure order (ADO) to the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

The LBO was issued “considering the gravity of the possible offense which may have been committed” and the “strong probability that they may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal processes of the government by leaving the country.”

Guevarra, however, explained that the DOJ will reassess the LBO against Aquino after the resolution of charges against him.

“We will study carefully if there is a need to lift the LBO once the charges against them before the DOJ are resolved,” he said.

The DOJ chief further revealed that they would look into the effect of the Supreme Court (SC) decision that voided the authority of the agency from issuing a watchlist order (WLO) against respondents in pending criminal cases to prevent them from leaving the country.

The LBO was formulated by former justice secretary and detained incumbent Sen. Leila de Lima in lieu of the WLO, which was subject of the temporary restraining order of the SC in 2011 through a petition filed by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The DOJ, under the new administration, continued to enforce the LBO on respondents in criminal complaints as well as high-profile subjects of fact-finding investigations. Just like a WLO, an LBO requires the subject to ask permission from the justice secretary through an ADO to be able to leave the country.

The SC ruling that voided De Lima’s Circular No. 41 for violation of the right to travel under Article III, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution has reportedly become final and executory in a ruling by the justices last Tuesday.

“The DOJ has yet to evaluate whether an LBO, which serves only to monitor a respondent’s foreign travel, is covered by the SC ruling nullifying HDOs, WLOs, etc. which actually restricted a respondent’s foreign travel,” Guevarra explained.

Aquino to DOJ: What due process?

Meanwhile, Aquino yesterday hit the DOJ’s claim that his right to due process was not violated in the NBI’s filing of charges against him in relation to the Dengvaxia controversy even without making him answer the complaint.

Aquino questioned Guevarra’s statement that he would be given due process before the ombudsman anyway, just like in the DOJ where he was given ample opportunity to contest the charges against him.

“The NBI performs fact-finding function only,” Guevarra said.

“I will be given due process somewhere down the line?” Aquino lamented.

The former president said the DOJ should live up to its name by making sure people are accorded due process and justice, noting he could not understand why the department would rely on the ombudsman to give him due process instead of the NBI, which is its attached agency.

Aquino also questioned how the NBI was able to decide on the matter without considering health, budgetary and disbursement factors since it did not ask him and his concerned former officials to submit any document.

He said getting all the sides of those concerned should help the agency weigh the pieces of evidence and file a complaint.

Aquino stressed that even due process has Biblical origins as explained to him by lawyer and Sen. Francis Escudero in the past.

“At the end of the day, (they should be able to say) we gave you all the due process (you deserved),” Aquino said.

The former president said he was summoned by the NBI last May 25 and sent his lawyers, but they were not given any complaint and the chance to answer.

On Wednesday, he disclosed that he was informed by the DOJ that the NBI could not possibly use its “findings” on Dengvaxia-related complaints because there are none yet as the investigation is still ongoing.

Aquino personally went to the department on Tuesday to subscribe to his rejoinder-affidavit on earlier Dengvaxia-related complaints against him filed before the DOJ and asked about the NBI case.

“Anybody will be made to think, do they already have findings even before we were subpoenaed?” he said.

As he awaits the findings of foreign experts tapped by the administration to look into the matter, Aquino insisted that people were being misled about the Dengvaxia vaccine.

Of the more than 800,000 children vaccinated with Dengvaxia, 0.2 percent may get infected with severe dengue even after inoculation, according to Aquino. He also pointed out that 90 percent of those vaccinated were presumed to have been exposed to dengue, putting those at risk to minimum levels.

Aquino, however, said there were those choosing to scare the people – making them avoid immunization programs rather than highlight the findings presented to them: that there would be 65.6-percent reduction in symptomatic dengue with the vaccine, 80.8-percent reduction in hospitalization and 93.2-percent reduction in severe dengue. – With Aurea Calica, Marvin Sy

BENIGNO AQUINO III DENGVAXIA VACCINE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
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