Lawyer tells Aquino: Don’t name pal chief counsel



A classmate of Mr. Aquino’s from grade school to college at the Ateneo de Manila University, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa topped the bar exams in 1986, was an honor graduate of Ateneo Law School and was an “able” law practitioner, according to Secretary Edwin Lacierda. PHOTO FROM CAGATLAW.COM

A lawyer has written President Aquino advising him against appointing his classmate, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, as chief presidential legal counsel.

Lawyer Ernesto Francisco Jr. said the President should refrain from appointing a practicing lawyer like Caguioa as his chief legal counsel to avoid a conflict of interest.

He said Caguioa and his law firm, Caguioa and Gatmaytan, had served as the legal counsel of three mining companies that had appealed the revocation by the Office of the President of agreements to explore, develop and use minerals in the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.

Thus, he said, Caguioa may not be “impartial” in handling the government’s position on mining matters.

In an opposition letter filed with the Office of the President, Francisco said the position of presidential legal counsel was perceived to have been used in the past to favor private interests, law firm’s and colleagues of the lawyer occupying the post.

“But this perception can be changed if in line with your avowed policy of ‘daang matuwid,’ you will deliberately refrain from appointing a private law practitioner to the position of presidential legal counsel,” Francisco wrote Mr. Aquino.

Francisco said there were many retired justices, judges, government lawyers and nonpracticing lawyers, including some in the academe, who were “more than competent and qualified” for the post.

Before the new year, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that Caguioa was being considered to replace Eduardo de Mesa, who had quit and moved on to the Bases Conversion Development Authority as board director.

A classmate of Mr. Aquino’s from grade school to college at the Ateneo de Manila University, Caguioa topped the bar exams in 1986, was an honor graduate of Ateneo Law School and was an “able”  law practitioner, according to Lacierda.

In his letter, Francisco said Caguioa’s law firm had lawyered for Narra Nickel Mining and Development Corp., Tesoro Mining and Development Inc. and McArthur Mining Inc. whose financial and technical assistance agreements (FTAAs) issued in the homestretch of the Arroyo administration were revoked by the Office of the President.

He said the OP had ruled that the issuance of FTAAs was “highly anomalous and irregular.”

“I must stress that I am not casting aspersions on the person of Attorney Caguioa or his law firm,” Francisco said, but their lawyering for the three mining companies could lead to a conflict of interest and “impact on national interest” if Caguioa were appointed.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Monday there was no word from the Office of the Executive Secretary on the appointment of a new presidential legal counsel.

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  • $20722540

    anong conflict of interest?  k pinoynoy walang conflict of interest yan…kasi hindi niya alam ibig sabihin niyan.  the requirement he needs is the guy is a member of kkk…okay na yan.  who cares?

  • Nelson

    Lawyer Ernesto Francisco Jr.’s observation should be taken seriously especially in the light of the growing focus of the government on the mining industry. Classmate Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa is a mining lawyer one hundred per cent through and through!

  • tgomeziii

    Atty. Francisco’s letter is a very sober and, in fact, caring caution. PNoy must heed it. Hindi naman siya kakapusin ng legal talent that will rise way above the level of even a whiff of potential conflict of interest.  Atty. Caguioa himself ought to welcome this opportunity to beg off. Insisting on the appointment….not because he was a classmate and boyhood friend but because of the background of Caguioa’s law practice….will be an example of a no win situation, ante mano.  Classic sala sa lamig, sala sa init.  Better to avoid it.

  • Pedro

    Useless yang yang pagiging bar topnotcher  and honor graduate kung hindi naman maglilingkod sa taong bayan . . at ang gagawin lang ay magpayaman  

  • Rovingmoron

    The people don’t know about this. It’s good that a concerned citizen has to come out and tell us the disadvantages of appointing a practising lawyer for that sensitive post. Otherwise, it would have been another gambit for P-Noy.

  • basilionisisa

    i hope the President considers the advice. (as well as his advisers)

  • rey

    another case of kkk? but this one is a hybrid. a combination of kaklase and kaigan (or pal as the title of the article suggests). so is this k-pal?

  • Philcruz

     This is good advice which PNoy should take heed of.

  • Hey_Dudes

    Others might find this rejoinder coming from this lawyer somewhat strange?  Tell me.  Has anyone ever written Gloria Makapal Arrovo not to hire anyone from the Cruz law firm during her time?  Not only did she appoint one lawyer as her secretary of defense, she also appointed another from the same law firm to sit in the supreme court?

    Suddenly, these bleeding heart conservatives are coming to the fore like knowing this president have not surrounded himself with former AFP generals and so there’s nothing to fear unlike during the time of the woman crook?  Her defenders even claimed whatever GMA did during time was her prerogative as the president?  Now, because this is a president who does not steal money from the people, everyone wants to boss him around?

    • Facilitator1

      Well said…

    • joshmale2004

      Bullseye!!! kahit sino iappoint niya kung retired justice man, there will always be lobbyist to try to protect their own interest. Nasa character na ng taong naka appoint kung magpapasilaw siya sa lobby money or hindi. Hindi pa man officially appointed, pinapangunahan na ng mga concerned groups daw. Si GMA nag appoint ng manicurist and gardener na maging head ng mga Government agencies pero walang pumalag sa mga to. Inappoint niya mga retired generals na tumulong sa kanya nung 2004 election. Wal ding pumalag. Tapos ngayon papalagan choice ni Pnoy eh kita namang very qualified.

    • Allan

      conservatives don’t have bleeding hearts.

    • antonioluna

      Of course, to show that Pnoy is always correct, we always have to drag GMA’s name to it…

  • vir_a

    We need more of this guy who has concern for good governance and for the welfare of the country. Something is really wrong with the way he chooses officials in government. Why bring in classmates. He should bring in people with no possible conflict of interest, aside from competence and brilliance.

    • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo


      Im sure there are career officials within the same organization who could rise up to the challenge, after all, they were the ones actually doing the job in the first place.

  • Fulpol

    daang matuwid is just a deceiving slogan of BS Aquino III.. he is just copying the style of Arroyo in ruling the land…

    Arroyo appointed her gardener for a juicy position in the gov’t… why can’t BS Aquino III do the same, to competent KKK?

    conflict of interest? nope. BS Aquino III’s interests is what they are protecting…

  • wawa2172

    I guess Noy have set the precedence. I guess head of government offices now have the easiest way to find replacement in vacancies for employment in his office: He must be a classmate in elementary, high school or college, shooting buddy, ka yosi, ka party-party, 

  • boybakal

    There is no Conflict of Interest, only Common Interest.
    Pnoy and Caguioa were classmates since elementary to college, they shared common interest.

  • joshmale2004

    Kahit sino iappoint niya kung retired justice man, there will always be lobbyist to try to protect their own interest. Nasa character na ng taong naka appoint kung magpapasilaw siya sa lobby money or hindi. Hindi pa man officially appointed, pinapangunahan na ng mga concerned groups daw. Si GMA nag appoint ng manicurist and gardener na maging head ng mga Government agencies pero walang pumalag sa mga to. Inappoint niya mga retired generals na tumulong sa kanya nung 2004 election. Wal ding pumalag. Tapos ngayon papalagan choice ni Pnoy eh kita namang very qualified

    • Ciano

      ogag! alam natin mali ang mga gingawa noong nakaraang administrasyon,bakit ginagawa pa rin ni Pnoy? nasaan na ang sinasabing tuwid na daan?puro propaganda lang pala! kung sa bagay,ang patakaran sa administrasyong ito pag KKK ka pasok agad!!!

      • joshmale2004

        Tsk tsk tsk. Can you compare qualification of a gardener janitor to a bar topnotcher? Napakalayo naman ng similarity ng ginawa ni GMA at Pnoy. Use your coconut lang. GMA was appointing people not based on qualification but whom she owed for her corrupt practices. Pnoy is appointing people in his cabinet not because he owes them a favor but because he knows their academic excellence from college days up to present. If you have 2 qualified candidates, the tendency is to pick the one you already know for long and you can personally trust. Kahit ikaw, ganun din gagawin mo.

    • Bert

      Si GMA nag appoint ng manicurist and gardener na maging head ng mga Government agencies pero walang pumalag? Sus mio, kaya nga bugbog sarado sa batikos, at nasa vmmc na ngayon, eh…..

      • joshmale2004

        Correction. Nabugbog na lang si GMA ng batikos nung patapos na term niya. Nung time na kasalukuyan niyang nag appoint ng mga personal aides niya, walang pumalag. Malinaw yun.

      • Bert

        so meron ngang bumatikos? But as far as i can remember, the batikos was immediate, right after this was exposed in The Inquirer, long before pandak’s term ended….

  • regd

    So, if I appoint a lady to the court it’s unfair simply because she will be biased towards the women?

    • Nelson

      Very poor logic!

  • Darwin

    Why deny the guy if he is qualified and one of the best?

    • Allan

      it’s the conflict of interest. he may be the best lawyer but being the best lawyer is not the only criterion. you have to consider other things like does he have vested interests on matters/cases at hand involving the government? if the answer is no, then by all means, appoint him. in other countires, just the appearance of impropriety is enough to disqualify a person from being appointed to a position, government or private.

      maybe the one word that can best describe the situation is – DELICADEZA.

      • joshmale2004

        Basing on the concern of Atty Francisco Jr, then he is qualified for the position. Although he lawyered for mining firms before, these are non government cases. If this will be the basis, even a retired justice who have lawyered companies like oil companies, insurance companies, banking sector during their private practice will be deemed not qualified. Besides, Atty Francisco’s concern is about the future decisions of Caguioa with regards to mining cases. This is apprehensive basis and not factual. And the position of Chief Legal Counsel is mere counselling to the President. He has no functionary nor decision making power. 

      • Bert

        Kaya BULOK ang gobyerno natin dahil sa kawalan ng DELICADEZA, at kagalingan ng pinoy sa PALUSOT at pangangatwiran…..

      • Dodjie Basco

        Competence should always be given more priority against delicadeza. Imagine settling for a lesser competent person because the most competent one only happens to be the President’s friend? Let the him produce result first then criticize his performance after. We will not grow as nation if we will always only look for the negative side of every decision. There is also the positive side that must be considered as well.

      • bucketZombie

        If all things being equal then he must be given priority to the post since he enjoys the confidence of the president. The question that begs to be answered is he really the most competent one?

      • Dodjie Basco

        Good question.

      • Bert

        And for a CHANGE, why can’t Competence and DELICADEZA go HAND IN HAND? Di ba pwede ang mga criteria na ito ay SABAY in choosing our GOVT OFFICIALS?

      • Dodjie Basco

        Yup. Agree. That is why we should give him a chance to prove his worth.

      • cogito728sum

        Very good argument Allan.  Thanks!

  • zom


  • joel genese

    Ma appoint man siya o hindi as pres legal counsel o kahit saan sa gabinete, may power pa rin siyang mag lobby sa presidente. Sabi nga ni Lacierda, classmate siya ni Pnoy simula grade school kaya malamang magkaibigan din sila.

  • cleoan

    Look at the brighter side. They are friends since grade school. The tendency there is PNoy will look (listen) at him as an equal when discussing issues concerning our country. And likewise, Caguioa can openly express his opinions (advices) to PNoy, not self-serving ones.

    • Bert

      So you need to be a classmate and a KKK, so you can talk with Pnoy as “equal”, or so you can express your opinion “openly”? 

      • cleoan

        Can u ask PNoy those questions u just asked me if he is infront of u?

        Sent via Samsung Galaxy Note 2

      • Bert

        yes, why not…..

        Sent via my Nokia 33, Fliflop model 1990… 

      • ed0408

        If the lawyer is frank then he can ask Pnoy.

        Sent via my Walkie Talkie 45, super long antenna model 1945

  • Homer Guo

    magpresidente muna kayo bago kayo magngangawa. walang magagawa ang ngawa kung gusto ng presidente i-appoint yung tao.

    • Bert

      sinabe din yon ni pandak nuon…..

  • disqusted0fu

    Pnoy has done it time and time again! He has appointed his friends and/or classmates in different positions in the government numerous times already. He has faced conflict of interest head on and does not seem to care because he is the one on top for now and he tends to abuse the privileges that comes with it.

  • kilabot

    let noykapon do as he pleases. 
    appoint anyone he likes. he needs people who will dance to the same tune he plays. 

  • buttones

    Conflict of interest? This is being pointed out as a concern? OMG! the whole web of Pilipino politics is contaminated with conflicts of interest, it’s an incestuous web from Barangay to the Palace, it has always been so, from Quezon and his ‘Hell’ to this very day….Ernesto Francisco is of course correct, in the right sort of way but Aquino will do as he pleases, he has no future in politics, has nothing to lose, he will appease his best pals and buddies. Not a lot we can do against that, and in fact there is no Law that says conflicts of interest in PH are illegal anyway- even monopolies are accepted in PH as the ’norm’ and cartels are a dime a dozen…

    • tarikan

      I couldn’t agree more, buttones. Conflict of interest in the PH government is standard staple in fact it thrives on it. Governors, congressmen, mayors having their own (through a dummy) construction companies doing business with the very government they are running. 

      • buttones

        Well as I said, the comments of the lawyer are well received but it seems to me this guy is a bit out of touch and has little idea of how this country operates- and has done since the very first Congress- they never bothered about this ’conflict’ then and 67 years later I suspect Congress now has the same lack of concern….Congress being the body of people who could change this, but if they are part of this it is unlikely they ever will- suicide is not common in the House of Congress.. [wish to God it were…]

      • doncleo

         Bakit nga ba nung kay Marcos,Ramos,Erap at Gloria ay lahat puede..Ngayon kay Noynoy ang daming hindi pwede,,di birong mas matino si Pnoy sa lahat nang yan.

  • Your_King

    It’s all about Aquino and his pals, also known as Aquino’s KKK. No matter what is right or what advisers tell him, Aquino will ignore it all to gift one of his KKK’s or even cover-up for them.

  • boybakal

    Conflict of Interest….well, we have Dynasty, Nepotism rampant in the government.
    At least their interest are in conflict with each other, for sure they will go either way.

  • Fred

    Pwedeng ma-appoint sa Court of Appeals muna tapos sa Supreme Court.

  • Toni

    The mother – kamag-anak inc. (Kapamilya)

    The son – Kabarkada (Kapuso)

  • johnlagrimas

    So it’s true – “You become what you hate”. 

    Aquino hates Marcos and Arroyo, and yet he becomes like them [in a very subtle way].

  • boybakal

    Noong panahon ni Marcos, ang tawag sa kanyang mga Kaibigan, Cronies;
    Ngayon panahon ni Pnoy, ang tawag sa kanyang mga Kaibigan, Kaklase.

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