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Acosta fears increasing number of public lawyers leaving PAO

/ 03:53 PM April 13, 2016
PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta. PHOTO FROM ACOSTA'S FB PAGE

PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta. PHOTO FROM ACOSTA’S FB PAGE

There is an exodus of lawyers from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), and its chief Persida Rueda-Acosta fears that the number could increase further.

As of January 2016, Acosta said 300 PAO lawyers left the office to work for the judiciary, the National Prosecution Service (NPS), or to shift to private practice.

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“They leave PAO because they probably think it will be a waste of their time and effort,” Acosta said Wednesday.

She fears that more PAO lawyers will soon leave, especially after the government has decided to increase the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) Retirement and Life Insurance Premiums’ (RLIP) government share contribution from three to nine percent. The nine percent will be deducted from the salaries of PAO lawyers.

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PAO lawyers lamented that they are being treated as second class citizens.

Recently, 38 retired PAO lawyers issued a manifesto calling for the government not to abandon them after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) refused give them their gratuity retirement package.

READ: Retired PAO lawyers to gov’t: Don’t abandon us

Originally, the claimants for the P139-million gratuity package were 40 lawyers, but two have already passed away.

“With no more income from any form of employment, we are relying on our retirement package to support our needs for sustenance—utilities, food and most of all, medicines. Most of us are nearing the end of our days and slowly, our bodies are beginning to succumb to various forms of illness; yet, we refuse to accept even the remote possibility that we will be abandoned by this government, our former employer, in a hapless state,” the PAO retirees said in their manifesto.

The DBM refused to release the P139-million after its legal service issued an opinion that PAO lawyers are not entitled to the same retirement package as that of prosecutors and judges.

Acosta said the retirees need to get the five-year lumpsum payment first from the DBM before they can have their monthly pension.

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“Most of them are sickly. They need maintenance, medicine, regular check ups. Where can they get the money?” Acosta said.

She said PAO lawyers have a heavy workload.

“Hindi lang criminal case ang hinahawakan namin. Dito, may civil, labor, criminal, arbitration, documentation, barangay outreach at marami pa. Hanggang bahay dala namin ang trabaho, kaya konti lang talaga ang magtitiyaga dito. Pano na ang mahihirap?” Acosta said. JE

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TAGS: Acosta, Insurance, PAO, PAO chief, Persida Acosta, Persida Rueda-Acosta, Public Attorney’s Office. lawyer, retirement
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