Aquino appoints classmate chief Palace lawyer
President Aquino has named lawyer Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, a classmate at the Ateneo De Manila University, as his new Chief Presidential Legal Counsel.
Caguioa replaced Eduardo de Mesa, who quit in December 2012 but was quickly appointed Bases Conversion Development Authority director on Dec. 19, replacing Teresita Desierto.
“He is a very able lawyer. He is four batches ahead of me in Ateneo Law School,” Lacierda, himself a lawyer, said in a text message.
Caguioa was a classmate of Mr. Aquino at the Ateneo from grade school to college.
The new appointee, son of the late Court of Appeals Justice Eduardo Caguioa, is a senior partner of the Caguioa and Gatmaytan Law Office, which specializes in litigation and arbitration.
Caguioa, a bar topnotcher in 1986, was an honor graduate of Ateneo Law School and an “able” law practitioner, said Lacierda.
But Caguioa’s appointment was not without opposition.
In a letter to the Office of the President, lawyer Ernesto Francisco Jr. said the President should refrain from appointing a practicing lawyer as his chief legal counsel to avoid conflict of interest.
In his opposition letter, Francisco disclosed that 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 issued in the homestretch of the Arroyo administration were revoked by the Office of the President.
Thus, he said, Caguioa may not be “impartial” in handling the government’s position on mining matters.