Former President Benigno Aquino III on Monday, June 4, urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to junk the criminal complaint brought against him by President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters over the P3.5-billion Dengvaxia controversy.
After attending the preliminary investigation at the DOJ, Aquino said in a press briefing that “the only weapon we have is the truth” and that “with the help of God, we will overcome these challenges.”
Aquino, assisted by lawyers, appeared before the DOJ panel of prosecutors along with former Health Secretary Janette Garin and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to submit their counter-affidavits personally.
Aquino maintained in a 27-page counter-affidavit, that the complaint should be tossed out for the supposed failure of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and Vanguard of the Philippine Constitution Inc. (VPCI) to present “sufficient bases in fact and law” to prove their allegations.
According to him, his and his cabinet’s decision to launch the dengue immunization program was “in accordance with law and the pertinent rules and regulations, and animated solely by good faith.”
“At the outset, I categorically deny all of the complaint’s factual allegations, particularly regarding my purported illicit involvement and participation in the commission of the offenses charged,” Aquino said.
In addition, he argued that the criminal complaint against them should be dismissed outright due to forum-shopping, noting that similar complaints were filed by the same groups in the Commission on Elections and the Office of the Ombudsman.
They were accused of graft, malversation of public funds and multiple homicide and physical injuries through negligence for the supposed Dengvaxia-related deaths of children by the VACC and the VPCI.
Defending his cabinet officials who approved and carried out the dengue immunization program, Aquino denied that it was designed to bolster the candidacies of his colleagues in the Liberal Party in the May 2016 elections.
“We should ask the question, ‘Is it all right to disregard the dangers posed by dengue to the people because we’re having an election?’ Was it rushed? I don’t know how anyone could claim it was rushed because we have had antidengue programs even before we came in,” he said.
When asked if he was concerned that he might end up in jail like De Lima, Aquino answered: “I cannot avoid thinking about that.”