MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, who has been named the brand new solicitor common of the incoming authorities of president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., has the excellence of serving three consecutive presidents.
Guevarra was deputy govt secretary for authorized affairs in Malacañang in the course of the time of the late former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and was later appointed by Aquino as commissioner of the Philippine Competitors Fee (PCC). When President Rodrigo Duterte received, Guevarra stayed on on the Palace as senior deputy govt secretary. Govt Secretary Salvador Medialdea was Guevarra’s co-partner of their regulation agency.
In 2018, Guevarra was appointed by Duterte his Secretary of Justice.
The incoming solicitor common was a accomplice of the De Borja, Medialdea, Ata, Bello, Guevarra and Serapio Legislation Workplace, the identical regulation agency the place incoming first girl Liza Araneta Marcos as soon as labored as an affiliate. Guevarra’s agency represented Imelda Marcos within the case that finally ended with the Supreme Court docket ordering the household to pay P23 billion, which had presumably ballooned to a P203-billion property tax. Guevarra confirmed this to justice reporters however mentioned the case was turned over to Liza Marcos’ agency when she left.
Guevarra declined nominations to be Supreme Court docket affiliate justice a number of occasions within the Duterte authorities, citing the necessity to helm the Division of Justice (DOJ) “in troubled occasions.” Guevarra is 68 years previous and due to a brand new Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) rule, he’s now deemed overage to use for a spot within the Bench.
Guevarra is a real blue Atenean, and graduated from the Ateneo Legislation Faculty in the identical batch as Liza Marcos. (He has a Masters in Economics from the College of the Philippines which was helpful throughout his stint on the Nationwide Financial and Improvement Authority pre-EDSA. He determined to enter regulation college afterwards.)
Dissenter within the Duterte Cupboard
Many would think about Guevarra as a dissenter within the Duterte Cupboard, having greater than as soon as taken positions in opposition to the Palace’s authorized insurance policies. However the “most delicate” entanglement with Duterte, Guevarra mentioned, was the Division of Justice or DOJ’ s creation of a drug battle evaluation that reinvestigated killings by law enforcement officials within the drug battle.
“The DOJ needed to take essential steps to make accountable the regulation enforcement brokers who had been instantly instructed by the President to go all out in opposition to unlawful medicine, so palagay ko ‘yan ang pinaka-significant na (so I feel that was essentially the most vital) level of stress between myself as Secretary of Justice (SOJ) and the President,” mentioned Guevarra in the course of the Kapihan sa Manila Bay discussion board on Wednesday, June 15.
Guevarra added: “In equity to him I feel he understood it and he by no means known as my consideration, he by no means instructed me Secretary Guevarra please go sluggish, he by no means mentioned one thing like that to me, known as my consideration, and so forth and so forth, he simply let me do what I believed was the correct factor to do.”
Guevarra is a acknowledged authorized knowledgeable, and has a usually good popularity inside the authorized – and even the human rights – group.
“Whereas we’ve got principled disagreements with the outgoing SOJ on sure elementary points, he seems to be a extra respectable and affordable public official who’s, by and enormous, revered for making an attempt to be devoted to the ‘rule of regulation’ and due course of regardless of, or due to, his place,” mentioned Edre Olalia, president of the Nationwide Union of Peoples’ Legal professionals (NUPL).
However some are unsatisifed. When Guevarra mentioned this week the DOJ is in opposition to red-tagging, and that labeling is harmful, former Supreme Court docket spokesperson Ted Te mentioned: “Too little, too late.”
The Fee on Human Rights (CHR) additionally had some dissastisfaction about being looped out of the DOJ drug battle evaluation.
On the helm of the OSG
Though the Workplace of the Solicitor Common (OSG) is technically an company connected to the DOJ, the workplace is autonomous and Guevarra would have the rank of a Court docket of Appeals presiding justice.
Underneath Jose Calida, the OSG was used to go after perceived critics of the federal government, and was intently concerned with the prosecution of the political opposition, and the shutting down of Rappler and ABS-CBN. The phrases “Tribune of the Individuals,” the OSG motto, had been utilized by Calida to do something he wished to do, even going in opposition to authorities shoppers – such because the time when he favored Marcos in a case in opposition to the Fee on Elections in the course of the vice presidential electoral protest. (The protest has since been junked 15-0.)
“We hope he is not going to solely actually be a Tribune of the Individuals but additionally the conscience of the administration particularly on issues of human rights and good governance,” mentioned Olalia.
The OSG below Calida additionally tried to abolish the Presidential Fee on Good Authorities (PCGG) by means of streamlining, or absorbing the PCGG capabilities below the OSG.
Marcos had mentioned earlier than he wished to broaden the mandate of the PCGG, which nervous stakeholders as a result of it might additionally imply weakening the unique mandate of the workplace to go after solely the stolen wealth of the president-elect’s household and their cronies. The PCGG has to this point recovered P174 billion in Marcos ill-gotten wealth.
Throughout the Kapihan discussion board, Guevarra mentioned his recommendation for Marcos is: “Simply comply with what the regulation says, as a result of you’ll by no means go flawed if you happen to uphold the regulation. ‘Yung pag-expand ng powers ng PCGG, I suppose hindi naman ibig sabihin nun ay (I suppose that doesn’t imply that you simply) focus extra on recovering the alleged ill-gotten wealth throughout President Marcos’ time however embrace ill-gotten wealth of different individuals.”
Guevarra’s appointment as solicitor common was introduced by Press Secretary-designate Trixie Cruz-Angeles on Friday, June 17.
“Guevarra has accepted the nomination as solicitor-general-designate throughout his assembly with president-elect Marcos on Thursday,” Angeles mentioned in a press launch. – MR