Issue of September 1, 2019
     
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Bocap’s legal representation cannot be handled by city LGU
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

The punong barangay of Camp Allen has to hire a lawyer to assist her in her case at the Ombudsman, as the City Legal Office could not represent her before the Ombudsman.

PB Maribel Estacion is presently facing an administrative complaint filed by Philippine Military Academy Supt. Lt/Gen. Ronnie Evangelista for violation of Sec. 3e of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

In the Aug. 19 session of the city council, Asst. City Legal Officer Melchor Rabanes said the CLO cannot represent Estacion because of a Supreme Court ruling in 1990 in G.R. No. 87977 that said the Office of the Solicitor General cannot defend public officials and employees in civil or criminal suits.

Rabanes said the same applies to lawyers of local government units. He said there was a time when he stood as lawyer of city officials who were sued in their official capacity by Jadewell Parking Corporation but he was disqualified on the basis of the Supreme Court ruling.

The city council referred Estacion’s case to the CLO on the basis that her giving the imprimatur for the construction of the barangay hall extension was done in her capacity as a punongbarangay.

The city council also told representatives of PMA to relay to Evangelista to consider withdrawing his complaint.

Rabanes said the CLO can only give legal advice to Estacion, however, preparation of counter affidavit or other legal documents that will be required by the Ombudsman has to be done by a private lawyer or the Public Attorney’s Office.

He said Estacion has available defenses but pending the Ombudsman’s issuance of an order for her to submit her answer, the better option at the moment is for an amicable settlement.
“First, let us try amicable talks especially on government buildings,” Rabanes suggested.

Rabanes also earlier suggested that to avoid similar incidents from happening, the city council can pass a resolution asking Congress to segregate Camp Allen for housing purposes.

His suggestions are under study by the committee on laws.


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