PAO not interested in Bikoy’s tales

MANILA The Public Attorney's Office (PAO) on Thursday said it is not interested in furthering self-styled whistleblower Peter Joemel Advincula's tall tales.

"He already has private counsel. He has no need for us," Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta said when asked whether her agency would be inclined to take up the cause of Advincula a.k.a. "Bikoy".

The PAO, an attached agency of the Department of Justice, exclusively represents indigent clients unable to afford private counsel of their own choice.

"Why did they allow him to hold a press conference in their offices?" the PAO chief also mused.

PAO 4-A (Calabarzon) Regional Public Attorney Howard Arteza, for his part, also laughed off the possibility of Bikoy approaching his office after Bikoy's fiasco with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) which saw local chapters denounce what it said was a politicization by its national leadership.

"There is no case yet," Arteza said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday advised Advincula to substantiate his claims before authorities or face the consequences of his actions.

"The NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) is waiting for Advincula/Bikoy to show up and submit his complaint with supporting evidence against the persons he implicated in the illegal drug trade. Should he fail to do so, the DOJ (Department of Justice) will consider his possible inclusion in Rodel Jayme's inciting to sedition case or indictment for other criminal charges after proper investigation," Guevarra told reporters.

On Wednesday, the IBP declined the request of Advincula for free legal assistance.

"The decision was reached after a thorough evaluation of his application was conducted by the NCLA (National Center for Legal Aid)," said IBP president Abdiel Elijah S. Fajardo in a statement.

He said the decision was made "based on the standards provided for in the NCLA Manual of Operations in approving such requests".

"However, communications and documents submitted during consultation shall remain privileged and confidential," Fajardo said.

The IBP leadership explained that since its mandate is to provide access to justice for the poor and the marginalized, it cannot be seen to be siding with or going against any candidate or political party.

Advincula had asked the IBP for free legal assistance and representation in the filing of charges against certain individuals, including candidates for elective positions, because of their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

"His application was duly processed just like any other request by the NCLA," the IBP explained. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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