Acosta to De Lima—correct your error
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta challenged the Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to correct the erroneous legal opinion that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued which sacks her and her deputies from government service for having no Civil Service eligibility.
In a nine-page Letter of Revocation, Acosta asked De Lima to reverse the January 3, 2011 Legal Opinion of DOJ Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras because it is clearly contrary to law, particularly Republic Act 9406 of the PAO Law.
“From the foregoing, with due respect, it is clear that the erroneous opinion and conclusions arrived at by the Honorable Chief State Counsel Ricardo V. Paras III should be SET ASIDE for being inordinate, contrary to law and absence of legal and factual basis,” it avers.
“Accordingly, we hereby respectfully pray in the highest interest of rule of law, justice and order, that the said opinion dated January 3, 2011 be REVOKED in toto by the Honorable Secretary of Justice Leila M. De Lima,” it pointed out.
She said Chief Public Attorney, Deputy Chief Public Attorneys and Regional Public Attorneys are considered permanent in nature. Hence, they enjoy security of tenure, contrary to the position advanced by Chief State Counsel Paras.
It was pointed out that R.A. 9406 which amended the 1987 Administrative Code of the Philippines, specifically states in “SEC. 16-A Appointment. – The Chief Public Attorney and the Deputy Chief Public Attorneys shall be appointed by the President. The Deputy Chief Public Attorneys and Regional Public Attorneys shall be appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Chief Public Attorney. The Chief Public Attorney, Deputy Chief Public Attorneys and Regional Public Attorneys shall not be removed or suspended, except for cause provided by law.”
The PAO chief stressed that the legislative intent in specifically providing that the above-mentioned officials “shall not be removed or suspended, except for cause provided by law” is to consider these positions as permanent, and thus they enjoy the mandatory security of tenure. It is R.A. 9406 with repealing clause that gave security of tenure to the said officials of the PAO, hence, they are exempt from the requirement of the CES eligibility.
“The equivalent ranks of the Deputy Chief Public Attorneys and Regional Public Attorneys, which are the Assistant Chief State Prosecutor and the Regional State Prosecutor respectively, likewise also provide for a minimum eligibility requirement of R.A. 1080 only, NOT, CESO eligibility,” it pointed out.
She said that her performance and outstanding credentials should speak for itself.
“The incumbent Chief Public Attorney, having been admitted to the Bar in April 1990 has been a lawyer for more than twenty years hence she has the qualification of a Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals which is now the qualification for the Prosecutor General,” she added.
The PAO chief also refuted DOJ’s contention position that PAO officials and lawyers handling quasi-judicial cases, which include the regular conduct of mediation, conciliation and arbitration of cases and disputes, are performing, in effect, quasi-judicial functions.
Acosta said that “Public Attorneys have been rendering mediation and conciliation cases way back in 1972, when the PAO was still named Citizen’s Legal Assistance Office (CLAO). This undeniably resulted in the reduction and declogging of cases filed in court. In fact, in year 2007 alone, the PAO nationwide was able to handle 448,672 mediation and conciliation cases. For the year 2008, the PAO was able to render mediation disputes numbering 416,056 and in the year 2009, a total of 323,149 mediation cases were handled by the PAO. (Jomar Canlas/ Manila Times)
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