PAO chief idenepensa ni Senator Enrile

Matinding idenepensa ni Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, pangunahing awtor ng batas na lumikha sa Public Attorney’s Office, ang lahat ng matataas na opisyal ng ahensiya laban sa pagpapalabas ng isang legal opinion na nagsasabing kailangan magkaroon sila ng Career Executive Service eligibility.

Tinukoy ni Enrile ang ilang mahahalagang probisyon sa ilalim ng umiiral na batas na pinagtibay ng Kongreso upang palakasin at balasahin ang PAO na nagsasabing may security of tenure ang lahat ng opisyal at empleyado ng ahensiya.

“To me, provisions under Section 16 on the appointment and tenure of PAO officials and employees already provides for a security of tenure for PAO officials so that they can guarantee the continuity of legal services for the poor despite changing political landscape,” giit ni Enrile.

Ipinaliwanag pa ni Enrile na nagkaroon ng awtonomiya ang PAO mula sa Department of Justice sa ilalim ng RA 9406 kaya naging attached agency lamang ito ng DOJ para lamang sa koordinasyon ng polisiya at progama.

Nitong Enero 3, 2011, nagpalabas ng opinyon ang Legal Department ng DOJ na nagsasabing pansamantala lamang ang security of tenure ng Chief Public Attorney, Deputy Chief Public Attorneys at Regional Public Attorneys ng PAS dahil hindi nasasakop ang mga kasalukuyang nakatalaga sa Career Executive Service Officers (CESO).

Ngunit, iginiit ni Enrile na wala sa probisyon ng RA 9406 na nag-uutos sa Chief Public Attorney. Deputy chief Public Attorneys at Regional Public Attorneys na kailangan munang maging career executive officers bago sila makapagsilbi sa naturang tanggapan.

“But if we want to go along the lines of the DOJ legal opinion, should we not then require the fiscals or the prosecutors to take and pass the CESO exam as well?  E di lahat na lang sila kailangan mag-CESO?”  tanong ni Enrile.

Aniya, magkatulad ang kuwalipikasyon sa pagtatalaga ng Chief Public Attorney, Deputies at Regional Public Attorney sa kanilang counterpart sa National Prosecution Service na siyang katumbas na kuwalipikasyon naman sa pagtatalaga ng presiding justice ng Court of Appeals, alinsunod sa Section 14 ng RA 1007 o ang National Prosecution Service.

Idinagdag pa ni Enrile ang paliwanag na “the PAO helps the poor who cannot afford to get the services of lawyers. PAO, as the principal law office of the government in extending free legal assistance to indigent persons, handles civil, criminal, administrative and even quasi-judicial cases of poor clients.”

“I am aware that the current leadership of PAO has already expanded their services in order to reach out to the indigents, making justice accessible even to the poorest members of our society.  There’s no doubt that they have carried out their mandate to the best of their abilities.  This issue, if remained unresolved much longer, will be to the detriment of PAO’s clientele,” patapos niya. Ernie Reyes

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