What are your duties, really? Sereno asks Calida

Lian Buan
What are your duties, really? Sereno asks Calida
Calida maintains: I can defend whoever I want to defend

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Tuesday, March 28, ordered Solicitor General Jose Calida to include in his memorandum an explanation of his duties as Solicitor General.

In her interpellation of Calida, Sereno asked why the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) was involved in Senator Leila de Lima’s cases as early as the preliminary investigations at the level of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Calida attended the DOJ hearing on December 21, 2016. In De Lima’s petition, Calida was said to have offered to be counsel for the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), the complainant in the case.

Calida clarified he did not enter an appearance for the OSG, but that he attended the hearing as a former member of the VACC.

But when pressed further, Calida said he attended the hearing in “his capacity as the Solicitor General and tribune of the people.”

“What is the policy of the OSG in representing private parties in preliminary criminal investigations?” Sereno asked Calida.

Calida said it was a judgment call. “First, I was a member of the VACC and also, I believe it was my duty to be there,” Calida said.

Sereno then said: “Can you please expound on the duties of the OSG in your memorandum. Because i think I’m interested in questions that were raised by Justice Leonen in the earlier part his interpellation on whether, in fact, this is common criminal investigation or prosecution, or it has already reached a persecution component.”

In an interview with reporters after the session was adjourned, Calida reiterated: “I am the tribune of the people, I can defend whoever I want to defend.”

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen also pointed out that inmate Jaybee Sebastian, in his affidavit, said Calida went to the New Bilibid Prison to talk to him.

“You were mentioned as having gone to the Bilibid and then after that, he explained, that after you, the follow-ups were done by a certain Ms Sandra Cam,” Leonen said.

But Calida said he was not aware that he was mentioned by Sebastian. “Unfortunately, as I confessed, I was not able to read all the affidavits,” Calida said. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.