Calida tells counsels: Avoid trash talk during litigation
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Monday urged counsels representing respondents in criminal cases to avoid trash talking during litigation.
This came after former senator Rene Saguisag called OSG lawyers “puppies” for representing the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in the sedition charges it initiated against 36 public personalities behind a well-organized effort to undermine the administration shortly before the recent mid-term elections.
“Firstly, former Senator Rene Saguisag’s statement spills beyond the walls of decency and propriety,” Solicitor General Jose Calida said in a press statement.
He chided the former lawmaker, whom he said “should know better than resort to gutter talk against his colleagues with whom he has the duty to treat with courtesy, fairness and candor”.
“Next it appears that Mr. Saguisag has a distorted understanding of the OSG’s powers and functions. Indeed, the mandate of the OSG is broad in scope,” Calida said, adding that “there are only a few recognized limitations to its authority in special laws and jurisprudence”.
Standing laws, he said, including the Administrative Code bounds it to serve its clients in any matter, which, in its opinion, affects the welfare of the State and the Filipino people”.
He cited that under the Administrative Code, it is bound to among other things “act and represent the Republic and/or the people before any court, tribunal, body or commission in any matter, action or proceeding which, in his opinion, affects the welfare of the people as the ends of justice may require.”
He added that it is within the bounds of law in rendering legal assistance sought by the PNP as its client agency.
During the hearing on August 9, Saguisag, who represents respondent Senator Risa Hontiveros, said the top government counsel’s office was engaged in being a “puppy”.
While the term literally translates to a young dog, it has been long adopted by communist front groups to describe subservience to a duly-elected government.
During the hearing, defense counsel Arno Sanidad representing respondent Jose Manuel Diokno had questioned the Solgen’s authority to represent the PNP-CIDG before the proceedings.
He was later joined by other respondents’ counsels led by Saguisag, and lawyer Lino De Leon representing Florin Hilbay.
Sanidad and the other respondents were given five days to file a formal motion on the challenge to the Solgen’s authority and subsequently 10 days for the solgen to formally respond to the same.
Members of the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas and Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John Humarang and Gino Paolo Santiago also gave the Solgen five days to answer the motion .
The DOJ has set Sept. 5 as tentative date for the next hearing after resolving the issues raised.
Vice President Ma. Leonor Robredo and 34 others are facing charges of sedition, inciting to sedition, cyber libel, libel, estafa, harboring a criminal/obstruction of justice.
Also named in the complaint were Hontiveros, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV; Jonnell P. Sangalang; Eduardo Acierto; Senator Leila de Lima; former Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) president Abdiel Fajardo; IBP President Domingo Egon Cayosa, former Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te; lawyers Minerva Ambrosio, Serafin Salvador, and Philip Sawali.
Senatorial candidates in the recent polls Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, Paolo Benigno A. Aquino, lawyer Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada III, Gary Alejano, Florin Hilbay, Romulo Macalintal, and Jose Manuel Diokno were also named respondents.
Also charged were Yolanda Villanueva Ong, Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, Fr. Albert E. Alejo, Fr. Robert Reyes, Bro. Armin A. Luistro, Cubao Diocese Bishop Honesto F. Ongtioco, retired Novaliches Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David, former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas, publicist Boom Enriquez, Vicente R. Romano III, Danilo Songco, and film actor/activist Joel Saracho.
A certain alias “Sentrix” and “John Doe”, along with “Bikoy”, were also named for their part in the so-called Project Sodoma, which was allegedly hatched to discredit administration candidates during the May 13 elections. (PNA)