Public Attorney’s Office chief decries ‘bullying’ by solons

December 26, 2018

THE Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief yesterday decried some lawmakers’ “bullying” of her and the agency she heads in connection with the implementation of the Hernan Doctrine which favors persons deprived of their liberty (PDLs).

Under the doctrine, the penalty of imprisonment of the accused was reduced by the Supreme Court pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act 10951.

The law, which was an amendment to the Revised Penal Code, is aimed to benefit inmates “who are mostly poor who have been convicted with inordinately long prison sentences and excessive fines for crimes which are in fact considered petty today.”

RA 10951 adjusted the amount or the value of property and damage on which a penalty is based and the fines imposed under the Revised Penal Code.

PAO chief Dr. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta assured the public that they are addressing the concerns of PDLs and the implementation of the law.

Chief Acosta however said that there are no short cuts in the implementation of the law, stressing that there are procedures to be followed and that each of the circumstance of the PDLs will have to be carefully studied considering that some of the PDLs are represented by private counsels.

She likewise explained that the immediate filing of petitions for the release of about 862 prisoners who are qualified to benefit from the provisions of the aforementioned law is hampered by several reasons.

These include pending cases, incomplete and insufficient records sent by the Bureau of Corrections, difficulty in securing the signatures of PDLs in the Bucor facilities, among others.

Acosta said they have not been remiss in fulfilling their mandate.

The PAO filed petitions before the Supreme Court following the ruling in the Hernan case.

The field lawyers have been filing the required  petitions before the lower courts for the release of qualified prisoners under the said law.

The PAO chief said that the PAO — in the pursuit of its mandate — have secured the release of about 14,000 prisoners.

Furthermore,  in compliance with its mandate, the PAO -- ahead of Christmas this year -- visited the Correctional Institution for Women  in Mandaluyong  and the Female Dormitory in Camp Karingal, Quezon City as part of its traditional jail visitation and free legal assistance, medical, dental and optical program.