PHILIPPINES: Reservations to a public lawyer’s denial on failing to update his client about his case 

An Open Letter to Atty. Joseph Jev L. Palomar, Public Attorney II, Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), Kidapawan City District Office

Atty. Joseph Jev L. Palomar
Public Attorney II
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO)
Hall of Justice, Kidapawan City

Dear Atty. Palomar:

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has acknowledged receipt of the copy of your comment submitted to Ms. Persida Rueda-Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), to our “deep concern” of your alleged failure to inform a prisoner that you represent in court about the progress of his case.

In our letter to Ms Acosta dated 12 October 2010, we mentioned that Iladio Laydan, a prisoner charged with Rape and Homicide before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 23 in Kidapawan City, had approached us during a jail visit. He claimed to have not been adequately informed and given regular updates by you on his case.

In your comment dated 9 November 2010 to Ms. Acosta, you denied Laydan’s claim. You also defended your performance as PAO lawyer providing legal aid service: “as my practice and commitment to all my clients, I always make it a point to confer with them almost every hearing”.

In dealing with Laydan’s case, you have also defended that: “I can still recall that I had talked to him (Laydan) several times concerning the progress of his case” and “I even requested him with the assistance of the jail guards to inform any of his family member/s to see me in my office so that I can ask about the background of his case”.

We are pleased by the professionalism you have mentioned in your claims; however, we express strong reservations as to whether they actually happened in reality. We could not be simply satisfied by your superficial and shallow explanation to a very serious allegation of neglect of duty. We would like to be certain, in the interest of this prisoner’s case, that your claim had adequate documents and records to demonstrate the legal aid service you have rendered in this case.

As you are aware, Article VI of PAO Memorandum Circular No. 18, series of 2002, requires guidelines in terms of “Recording and Reporting of cases and services” to cases that PAO lawyers are handling. For your benefit, we would like to request these documents below concerning Laydan’s case be produced to the prisoner and to us. This could also prove your compliance with this guideline in your daily routine work:

1. PAO Form No. 4 (Case History): containing the “recording of every development of the case such as dates of hearings, the witnesses presented for direct or cross-examination, and documents marked as exhibits”.

2. PAO Form No. 6: containing the record of your “jail visitation activities” with Laydan. They should also “contain the following: the person visited, detainees interviewed and action taken on their problem, if any;

3. PAO Form No. 7: containing the “documentation (of the) services” and recording of “the date, the name and address of the client and the kind of document prepared”. Unless you are amongst those who have been “exempted from the use of this form (Form No. 7)” we could understand why they could not be made available.

Your response denying any claims about your failure will have no merit and be meaningless if no documentation, as required by this PAO Memorandum Circular, can substantially prove them. I am certain that you will understand that no one can be immediately convinced without substantial proof being given. Our exercise of reservations and caution is due to your position as a public officer having greater responsibility.

Your compliance to our request will benefit Laydan’s case. This will also affirm the credibility of the PAO as a public legal aid institution, particularly the PAO district office where you are serving. To protect the interest of accused, particularly the poor who has no capacity to defend themselves in court, is the heart of the adequate functioning of a public legal aid service.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Wong Kai Shing
Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)


Ms. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta, chief public attorney, Public Attorney’s Office Central Office, PHILIPPINES

Document Type : Open Letter
Document ID : AHRC-OLT-016-2010
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Right to fair trial,