Saturday, January 14, 2017

WATCH: Leila De Lima hindi nakapalag kay Persida Acosta!

Senator Leila de Lima on Friday grilled Persida Acosta, chief of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), for assisting Bilibid inmates testifying in the ongoing House probe on the alleged drug trade inside the national penitentiary. “I’m wondering how is the mandate of your office being fulfilled by your appearance in the ongoing House hearings?” De Lima told Acosta at the Senate briefing on the proposed budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its attached agencies. De Lima, who had been linked by inmates to the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), said she was merely concerned about the PAO’s “prioritization of work.” “Hindi ba kayo doon sa pinakatunay na mandato ng PAO na ang dami diyan ng mga indigent na mga akusado na napapabayaan? You’re spreading your resources and abilities too thin,” said De Lima, a former Justice secretary. The senator added that she was receiving information that PAO lawyers were interviewing and “rehearsing” the witnesses. De Lima said the PAO’s mandate is to defend accused persons who are unable to avail of private lawyers, and to assist the DOJ. She said it was “anomalous” for PAO to assist government witnesses who might later on become prosecution witnesses that are supposed to be represented by the National Prosecution Service. Acosta, for her part, explained that she appeared before the House committee on justice because there was an invitation issued to her by the committee secretariat. Acosta added that at least two lawyers were assisting inmates, and that they qualify the indigency test. “Preso ‘yung dalawa na yun kaya walang trabaho yun. Kapag nakakulong ang isang tao, wala kang income, our indigency test is based on income,” the PAO chief argued. She said the PAO is usually tapped in congressional hearings because it is the state’s duty to provide a counsel to any witness otherwise risk proceedings being a “sham.”




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