PAO chief too close to exec branch? ‘I have shown my independence’

Katerina Francisco
PAO chief too close to exec branch? ‘I have shown my independence’
Chief public attorney Persida Acosta says she has shown her independence while serving under 3 presidents

MANILA, Philippines – Chief public attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta on Wednesday, November 16, stressed her independence amid questions by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) about her close ties to the executive branch.

Acosta is vying for the Supreme Court (SC) associate justice seat to be vacated by retiring Justice Jose Perez.

During the public interview, JBC member Maria Milagros Fernan-Cayosa asked Acosta if she was familiar with the code of judicial conduct, in particular, the provision that states that judges should be free from inappropriate connections with the executive and legislative branches of government, and must also appear to be free to a reasonable observer.

Cayosa noted that on several occasions, Acosta was said to have claimed that it was President Rodrigo Duterte who told her to apply for a slot in the High Court.

“Are you not concerned that your statement gives a reasonable observer reason to question your independence, having some sort of close connection with the executive branch?” Cayosa asked.

Acosta said that in her years serving under 3 presidents, she has shown that she is not beholden to anyone.

Naipakita ko ang aking independence sa aking mga opinyon at paghawak ng kaso…Ang aking pinagbabatayan ay rule of law. Sinuman ang mga tao na nagpanukala na ako ay dapat mag-apply o mapabilang sa mahistrado, ito ay opinyon nila na hindi magiging dahilan na ako ay maging biased sa hinaharap,” Acosta said.

(I have shown my independence in my opinions and my handling of cases…My basis is the rule of law. Whoever recommended me to apply to the SC, that is their opinion and it will not be a reason for me to be biased in the future.)

Sources in the legal community earlier told Rappler that the chief public attorney appeared to be a top pick by the President for the SC seat, with Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos reportedly backing her bid. –

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