"What’s his motive?"
In the aftermath of the Bikoy press conference, the ensuing actions of the Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines appear to deviate from the sense of unity with which the IBP has discharged its functions.
Egon Cayosa was one with the 23rd Board of Governors in tackling issues that, while politically charged, were critical to the IBP’s drive to uphold the rule of law. The IBP intervened in several high-stakes Supreme Court cases—the ouster of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, the administration’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the extension of martial law in Mindanao. Cayosa, representing the IBP, even participated in a human rights forum organized by Manlaban sa EJK.
One would think that, with an IBP that’s remained unflinching against this administration’s tirades, the entire Board would stick it out like a band of brothers. Not with Cayosa, it appears.
Right after the May 6, 2019 press con, Cayosa already made several public pronouncements demanding accountability within the IBP. Curiously, it was only on May 12, 2019 when a screenshot surfaced showing that Cayosa asked for a formal investigation with the Board.
The screenshot is undated. However, if Cayosa’s request was made early on, why the need for public demands of accountability? Why was there no mention then of an impending investigation? Alternatively, if such request had been made at or around May 12, then an investigation would seem an afterthought.
In other words, an IBP officer concerned with protecting the organization would have prioritized internal housekeeping before airing out dirty laundry. Especially considering that Cayosa jointly faces a disbarment complaint with IBP president Ade Fajardo, it would seem that putting up a united front is what’s best for the organization’s integrity. Yet, Cayosa seems overeager to pre-empt the complaint with the Board’s own investigation, managing to secure his request even over Mother’s Day Sunday and election Monday.
Contrast these actions to former IBP president Jose Grapilon’s more tempered, more protective public statement. Grapilon mentioned that the National Center for Legal Aid, after adhering to its operations manual, had already denied Bikoy’s request for legal assistance. Grapilon went on to defend Bikoy’s freedom of speech and expression—as a champion of fundamental liberties, the IBP should be the last to deny Bikoy the opportunity to air out his grievances against the current administration.
What exactly is at stake for Cayosa?
Under the IBP bylaws, the EVP automatically becomes president after the incumbent one steps down. This means that Cayosa will head the IBP for much of the remaining half of President Duterte’s term. Will he continue the present leadership’s legal crusades? Or will he squander such gains? If the former, his current actions seems counter-intuitive as he will be heading an IBP that he is presently undermining.
One must recall that Cayosa is the spouse of lawyer Maria Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, a twice-appointed member of the Judicial and Bar Council, both appointments being made by President Benigno Aquino III. Just recently, Fernan-Cayosa had defended ousted Chief Justice Sereno before impeachment proceedings in the lower house. Moreover, her recent bid for Justice of the Court of Tax Appeals was junked.
Whatever his motives might be Cayosa’s forthcoming actions will be consequential for the entire IBP. Much as he has been commanding attention lately, then why not give him what he’s asking for? Scrutinize his every move from here on.