2nd show cause order issued vs PAO chief over 'belligerent' directive | Inquirer News

2nd show cause order issued vs PAO chief over ‘belligerent’ directive

/ 07:09 PM July 25, 2023

2nd show cause order issued vs PAO chief over 'belligerent' directive

PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta. INQUIRER.net file photo /CATHY MIRANDA

MANILA, Philippines —The Supreme Court has issued another show cause order to Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta to explain why she should not be administratively sanctioned for issuing Office Order No. 096 requiring public defenders to comply with Section 22 Canon III of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability (CPRA) or the “Conflict of Interest” provision.

PAO, in Office Order No. 096, told its lawyers to follow Section 22 of the new code. In following the conflict of interest provision, PAO reminded its lawyers of Art. 209 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes betrayal of trust by an attorney or solicitor.


The provision imposes a penalty of between 6 months and one day to 2 years and four months and/or a fine of between P40,000 and P200,000 on a lawyer or his/her representative for a “malicious breach of professional duty or of inexcusable negligence or ignorance” that prejudices the client, or for revealing a client’s secrets which a lawyer obtained in his/her professional capacity.


The provision also requires the consent of the first client if the lawyer later defends the opposing party.

But the SC, in a unanimous vote, deemed the Office Order as “belligerent and disrespectful as she effectively accused the Court of directly exposing the Public Attorneys not only to criminal and administrative liability but also physical danger.”

“Thus, although it presented itself as a directive to comply with Canon III, Section 22 of the CPRA, the Office Order further instigated disobedience to the said rule,” the SC said.

Section 22, Canon III of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability (CPRA) states: “In the pursuit of its mandate under its charter, the Public Attorney’s Office shall ensure ready access to its services by the marginalized sectors of society in a manner that takes into consideration the avoidance of potential conflict of interest situations which will leave these marginalized parties unassisted by counsel.”

The same provision states that: “A conflict of interest of any of the lawyers of the Public Attorney’s Office incident to services rendered for the Office shall be imputed only to the said lawyer and the lawyer’s direct supervisor. Such conflict of interest shall not disqualify the rest of the lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office from representing the affected client upon full disclosure to the latter and written informed consent.”

With the new provision, there will be a possibility that opposing parties may be represented by PAO lawyers.


INQUIRER.net has reached out to the PAO Chief Acosta, but she has yet to respond as of posting time.


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TAGS: Acosta, PAO, Persida Acosta, show cause, Supreme Court

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