Luna said “Yes. Hearings have been set on March 8 (Drs. Francis Cruz and Clarito Cairo, Jr. and VACC), March 9 (Department of Health (DOH) officials) and March 15 (Aquino, former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and former DOH Secretary Janette Garin),” lawyer Manuelito Luna said in a viber message.
Last month, the Comelec’s Law Department, has directed Aquino, the former Department of Budget and Management chief and the former DOH head to appear and submit their counter-affidavits on March 15 at 10 am before the poll body.
“You are hereby directed to appear and submit your counter-affidavit and other supporting documents or affidavits, of your witness/es, if any at the Law Department, Commission on Elections, 8th Floor Palacio del Gobernador, Intramuros, Manila on 15 March, 2018 at 10:00 o’clock in the morning before Atty. Erwin S. Villarin, Atty. Abigail Claire F. Carbero-Llacuna and Atty. Nancy R. Hadap-Villanueva,” according to the summons provided by Luna.
The other respondents namely: DOH Undersecretaries Carol Tanio, Gerardo Bayugo, Lilibeth David, and Mario Villaverde; Assistant Secretaries Lyndon Lee Suy and Nestor Santiago; Director Laureano Cruz, Director Joyce Ducusin, Director Mar Wynn Bello were likewise, directed to file their counter-affidavits before the Law Department on March 8, 2018 at 10 am.
The complainants, Cruz and Cairo have been commanded to appear before the said Law Department officials on March, 8, 9 and 15, at 10 am.
On the other hand, the Comelec warned the individuals that if he/she failed to appear on the date and time stated, “you will be deemed to have waived your right to be heard and present your evidence. No postponement will be granted unless on exceptionally meritorious ground.”
The case stemmed from the affidavit-complaint filed by Cruz and Cairo accusing Aquino and company of violating several provisions of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) over the implementation of the controversial program ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
They believed that the government officials committed an election offense when they used public funds, for an election campaign, despite being prohibited by the OEC.
An election offense carries the penalty of one to six years of imprisonment, removal of right to vote, and disqualification to hold public office. -PNA