THE issue over conflict of interest that the Public Attorney’s Office wanted to explain through a dialog with the Supreme Court is something the latter must not ignore as it’s a real, sensitive matter that affects the public lawyers in general.
It appears that PAO has been communicating with the high tribunal through formal letters addressed to Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and the latest was another letter, this time, requesting for a dialog with the top magistrates, in vain.
The high court, despite objections by PAO to the ‘conflict of interest’ provision -Section 22, Canon III – under the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability, went on to approve it that left the latter in limbo as its lawyers would now be forced to go against each other in one criminal or civil case as what the CPRA says so.
PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta has been pleading with the high tribunal to preserve the integrity not only of the PAO but of the entire justice system in the Philippines by reconsidering and deleting the CPRA provisions in question.
“With all due respect Your Honor, such concerns can be clearly explained only by public attorneys as they are the ones on the ground and are completely familiar with the surrounding circumstances,” the letter said.
PAO’s clients, mostly Filipino indigents and underprivileged, have the pre-conceived notion that justice would be elusive to them because they’re poor and allowing PAO to represent their adversaries would further increase their reservations and distrust against the justice system.
“Ultimately, allowing PAO lawyers to go against each other in one particular criminal or civil case creates the impression that the justice system in the Philippines is a sham,” she said.
The chief public attorney said this will be more detrimental to public service because some district offices especially in the provinces are far apart from each other or hours and miles away while others have only one to two public attorneys.