MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – As the government’s chief counsel, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has figured in many high-profile cases.
Recently, the OSG is moving to overturn the conviction of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles for the serious illegal detention of her cousin, Benhur Luy. (FACT CHECK: Where should the Solicitor General stand in Napoles’ case?)
In the past, the Solicitor General took part in the citizenship case of Senator Grace Poe, in the Marcos burial case, and in the ongoing Torre de Manila condominium case, all of which are heard in the Supreme Court.
What exactly is the role of the OSG?
The OSG is an independent and autonomous body attached to the Department of Justice. It is headed by the Solicitor General.
Similar to how a lawyer represents a person in court and gives advice on legal matters, the Office of the Solicitor General represents “the People of the Philippines, the Philippine Government, its Agencies and Instrumentalities, Officials and Agents” before SC and the Court of Appeals, according to its website.
The current Solicitor General is Jose Calida, who was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The OSG currently holds office in Legaspi Village, Makati City.
The mandate of the Office of the Solicitor General can be found in Book 4, Title III, Chapter 12 of the 1987 Administrative Code. In summary, it has the following official powers and functions:
- Represent the government in all criminal proceedings in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
- Represent the government and its officers in all civil actions and special proceedings. In cases outside the Philippines, the OSG may employ counsel for assistance.
- Appear in any court in any action involving the validity of any treaty, law, executive order, or proclamation, rule or regulation when, in the OSG’s judgment, intervention is necessary or when requested by the Court.
- Investigate and initiate court action against any person, corporation, or firm for the enforcement of a contract, bond, guarantee, mortgage, pledge, or other collateral with the government.
- Appear in all proceedings involving the acquisition or loss of Philippine citizenship.
- Represent the government in all land registration and related proceedings.
- Institute actions for the return of lands and improvements thereon of public domain to the government.
- Upon request of the President or other proper office of the national government, prepare documents for use in official transactions with conformity to law and public interest in mind.
- Deputize any provincial or city fiscals to assist in the OSG’s duties within the fiscal’s jurisdiction.
- Deputize government legal officers to assist the OSG.
- Call any government agency for service, assistance, and cooperation.
- Receive funds and allowances provided by government agencies for legal services.
- Upon the instruction of the President, represent the Philippines in international litigations, negotiations, or conferences where the legal position of the Republic must be defended or present.
- Represent the Republic and/or the people in any court, tribunal, body, or commission in any matter, action, or proceedings that in the OSG’s opinion, affects the welfare of the people.
- Perform other functions as may be provided by law.
The position was created in 1901 to assist the Attorney General, who headed the Bureau of Justice. Lebbeus Wilfey served as the country’s first Solicitor General.
The Attorney General position was abolished in 1932 and its functions were assigned to the Secretary of Justice. The Solicitor General subsequently became head of the Bureau of Justice.
After some of its functions were transferred to the Department of Justice, the Bureau became the Office of the Solicitor General in 1947.
A list of cases that involved the OSG can be found here. – Rappler.com