|Dengvaxia Vaccine, photo from Inquirer News – INQUIRER.net|
“Former budget secretary Abad has a lot of explaining on why he should not be indicted for inexcusable/culpable violation of the law and the Constitution.”
In an column published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bartolome Fernandez, a retired senior commissioner of the Commission on Audit, said that the purchase of the controversial Dengvaxia by the Aquino administration was uconstitutional, and therefore illegal.
The Commissioner commented on how Sen. JV Ejercito questioned the use of savings to purchase the antidengue vaccines and decried the absence of the required appropriation from Congress for the P3.5-billion immunization program undertaken during the previous administration, thereby precluding congressional intervention.
Following this is the statement of former budget secretary Florencio Abad that “it is normal for the government to use savings to purchase medicines.” during the Senate hearing on the controversial purchase of Dengvaxia vaccine.
“It appears that Abad is skating on thin ice, as it were, by making such an assertion which, in my view, is an egregious error that has raised “red flags.”” he said.
He said that savings are not normally utilized as funding source for government financial transactions, citing several statutes.
“Savings arise from unexpended balances of appropriations authorized in the annual General Appropriations Act for the national government which, as mandated by law, “shall revert to the unappropriated surplus of the General Fund at the end of the fiscal year and shall not thereafter be available for expenditure except by subsequent legislative enactment” (Sec. 28, Ch. 4, Bk. VI, Executive Order No. 292, s. 1987, the Administrative Code of 1987) because of the constitutional injunction that “No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law” (Sec. 29 (1), Art. VI, 1987 Constitution) Thus, it is clear that Abad’s use of savings without any legislative appropriation to purchase the antidengue vaccines is assailable as legally and constitutionally infirm,” he said.
He added that he is curious if the expenditures were subjected to audit and examination.
Fernandez added that Given the legal and constitutional infirmity of the expenditure, as just demonstrated, the purchase should have been disallowed outright in audit.
“In the interest of transparency, the COA should forthwith emerge from its cocoon of silence and report to the people its audit intervention in the premises,” he said.
Three point five billion was spent on the Dengue vaccine which later on proved to be detrimental to those who have been administered with it and has yet to contract Dengue in their lifetime.
An estimated 800,000 Filipino children were given the drug since April of 2016.
Investigations by the Senate as well the Department of Justice and the Department of Health is ongoing to gather answers on the issue.
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