The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is demanding a public apology from senatorial bet and television host Raffy Tulfo over allegation of “absenteeism” to represent indigent clients during inquest proceedings.
At a news conference in Quezon City, PAO chief Persida Acosta urged Tulfo to spare PAO from politics.
“It is unfair for PAO lawyers to be accused of failure to represent the accused during inquest,” Persida told reporters.
“That is a hasty generalization from Mr. T,” she stressed.
In a CNN Philippines interview, Tulfo said if he is elected as senator, he would put up a free legal assistance clinic with lawyers reporting directly to him and to closely work with PAO.
He lamented that “if you go to inquest proceedings, you will notice that the poor are not well-represented by PAO.”
“Mr. T, please spare PAO from politics. Stop using PAO for personal gain,” Persida said.
According to her, the agency has represented 85,533 persons during inquest investigation and custodial interrogation in 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year, PAO handled 787,124 cases, serve 9,707,274 clients and secure the acquittals in 13,804 cases filed against the poor and the underprivileged, she noted.
From 2016 to 2021, PAO has served 63,739,837 clients, including 985,051 persons who were represented by PAO during inquest investigation and custodial interrogation, and 106,562 individuals who were acquitted of their criminal charges, she said. Rio N. Araja
“What is your (Tulfo) basis? Where did you get those allegations against our public lawyers?” she asked.
She claimed PAO has always prioritized all referrals from Tulfo’s television program to help its indigent audience.
“Please tell me who among our lawyers hve been remiss so I could call their attention and sanction them if they have committed negligence,” she said.