Drilon wants removal of SolGen power to intervene in annulment cases

Camille Elemia

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Drilon wants removal of SolGen power to intervene in annulment cases
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon says the Office of the Solicitor General should not be concerned with private marital affairs, but Solicitor General Jose Calida says they 'don't mind'

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon proposed that the power to review annulment cases be removed from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to unburden the agency.

During a hearing on bills seeking to strengthen the OSG, it was shown that as of January 29, the agency has 728,904 pending cases, including active, marriage, and terminated cases, among others.

As the designated “defender of the marital bond,” the OSG is mandated to represent the state’s interest in protecting marriage as the basic family institution in annulment cases. The OSG also acts as the data repository of all annulment cases in the country. (SEE: INFOGRAPHIC: How to get annulled)

To help with the OSG load, Drilon said the agency should no longer be concerned with marital cases, which are private in nature. The senator said the role could be passed on to the fiscal. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The state of the nation’s marital woes)

“The Office of the Solicitor General is burdened with so many cases and yet you are duty bound to appear in private marital cases which should be the concern of private parties….I’m sure it adds to your burden,” Drilon said.

Solicitor General Jose Calida, in response, said: “We don’t mind it.”

Drilon said he would submit his proposal to the Senate committee on justice headed by Senator Richard Gordon.

“I will submit to the committee [a proposal] which will remove from the SolGen the burden of intervening in marital cases because to me… the matter of sanctity of marriage can be performed by the judge, and relieve the SolGen of this burden,” Drilon said.

But Calida insisted that the “wisdom” there is that the presence of the OSG would be “a deterrent to any collusion [between the] parties and judge.”

Drilon said, “Yes, you can delegate this to the fiscal, to the city prosecutor.”

Gordon shared Drilon’s sentiment and said the OSG should remove marital cases from its jurisdiction.

“You should delete that. You should create another office for that. I think you would be relieved if we remove the marriage cases, annulment,” Gordon said.

Both senators also expressed opposition to the OSG’s proposal to abolish the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) as well as the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and put their functions under Calida. (READ: In charge of recovering ill-gotten wealth? But Calida is pro-Marcos)

“We have to strengthen the OSG. But question remains as to whether the inclusion of OGCC, PCGG must be seen as adding a ton to your burden. I haven’t gone to that yet….I think you should be asking for more lawyers instead of more divisions, or reducing the nature of your cases,” Gordon said. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.