Profile of Chief Public Attorney

Profile of Dr. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta

 

           Dr. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta,  the Chief Public Attorney of the Republic of the Philippines and nationwide  head  of  the  Public  Attorney’s  Office  (PAO) since February 23, 2001 up to the present,  is the  4th Placer  in  the  1989  Philippine  Bar  Examinations. Chief Acosta, a Doctor of Social Development graduate from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, has completed the Senior Executive Fellows Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, Massachusetts, U.S.A.  She is an Asian Public Intellectuals (API) Senior Fellow. She  is  also  a  Fellow  of  the  Salzburg  Global  Seminar  and  the U.S.A. International Visitor (IV) Program.  She  is  a  holder  of  a  Certificate  in  an  Executive Education Program  on  Public  Financial  Management  in  the  Changing  World,  from  the Harvard  Kennedy  School,  Massachusetts,  USA,  and  another  Certificate  in  a Training  Seminar Course  on  International  Management  and  Leadership,  from  The  International  Centre  for Parliamentary  Studies  (ICPS),  London. 

 

             She  is  a  member  of  highly  regarded  international organizations  such  as  the  International  Legal  Aid  Group  (ILAG),  the  International  Corrections and  Prisons  Association  (ICPA),  and  the  International  Association  of  Bloodstain  Pattern Analysts  (IABA).  Recently,  she  has  been  awarded  a  Certificate  by  the  International  Consortium on  Governmental  Financial  Management  (ICGFM)  for  having  successfully  completed  the Seminar  on  Public  Financial  Management,  Foundation  for  Public  Governance  in  Miami, Florida, USA.

 

She was appointed in February 2001 by former President and current Member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Since then, she has become a herald of hope to the indigent and other clients of the PAO who are searching for justice, and is now honored to continuously serve in her capacity as Chief Public Attorney in the administration of H. E. President Benigno S. Aquino III.

 

          Her expertise on legal aid has been recognized by the United Nations. In June 2014, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) (together with the Government of South Africa, Legal Aid South Africa, the International Legal Foundation) invited her as a Panel Speaker in the  International Conference on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The UNODC also invited her to attend as an Expert/Resource Person during the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Meeting of Experts on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems in 2011 in Vienna, Austria. A similar honor was accorded to her by the Hanns Siedel Foundation, which acknowledged her adeptness in criminal law. The said foundation invited her as Delegate to the project entitled, Crafting a Modern Criminal Code of the Philippines, that was held also in 2011 in Berlin, Germany. She has been a Climate Reality Leader since 2009, for The Climate Reality Project, founded and chaired by former US Vice-President Al Gore.

 

            As an active member of the ICPA, she was invited to serve as Resource Speaker by the said organization in its international conferences, wherein she delivered the following presentations: Managing Overcrowding in Correctional Facilities: A Philippine Inter-Agency Initiative, ICPA’s 14th Annual Meeting and Conference, October 28 –November 1, 2012, Mexico City; Health Care Collaborations in Philippine Jails and Prisons: Making Headways on Inmates’ Rehabilitation and Reintegration, ICPA’s 13th Annual Meeting and Conference on September 11-16, 2011, Singapore; The Philippine Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and its Advocacy of Saving Lives, ICPA’s 10th Annual General Meeting and Conference, October 26 -31, 2008, Prague, Czech Republic; and Legal Counselling and Healing Behind Bars, ICPA’s 9th Annual General Meeting and Conference on October 21 -26, 2007, in Bangkok, Thailand.

 

As a passionate advocate of prison reforms, she was granted a scholarship on the course entitled, New Approaches to Prison Management and Rehabilitation, by the Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI), which she took up on July 11-22, 2013, in GIMI, Nahalal, Israel. The UNODC also recognizes her advocacy for inmates’ rights. She was invited by the UNODC as Presentor during the 2nd Informal Inter-Country  Consultation  on  HIV Prevention and Care among  Injecting Drug Users and  in Prison  Settings that was held from February 19 –21, 2008 in  Vienna, Austria.

 

           As a multi-awarded public servant, her major significant award is the Lingkod Bayan Award, the Highest Presidential Award for Outstanding Public Service, from the Civil Service Commission, that was given to her on Sept. 22, 2004. This award cited that “her deep commitment to the service has helped restore people’s faith in the judicial system as she valiantly worked for the staying of the execution of death convicts despite threats to her life”. The staying of execution of the said inmates served as a precursor to the abolition of death penalty in the Philippines on June 24, 2006. This award promoted her to a rank that is equivalent to a Department Secretary, as provided under Section 5 of Executive Order No. 508, entitled, “Instituting the Lingkod Bayan Award as the Presidential Award for Outstanding Public Service”, dated March 2, 1992, issued by the late former President, H. E. Corazon C. Aquino.         

 

          Her remarkable feat as Presidential Lingkod Bayan Awardee has also been acknowledged abroad. She was conferred the  2013 Most Outstanding Filipino Woman in the Field of Legal Jurisprudence for   Public Good Award,  the  2012 Outstanding in Public Service and Legal Jurisprudence Award, and the  2011 Most Outstanding Public Servant Award  by the California, USA-based  Gawad Amerika Foundation.

 

          Chief Acosta does not rest on her laurels.  She  continuously places  the  PAO  on  the  map of international  recognition  as she  personally handles  and/or leads cases with  national and  global significance. Some  of  these  are the  current  cases  that  have  been  entrusted  to  her  and  the  PAO, to wit:  the  cases  of political prisoner Ericson Acosta, Cadet  1st Class  Aldrin  Jeff  Cudia;  Orellano  sisters,  minors  who  were  allegedly raped  by  a  relative;  the  relatives  of  the  victims  of  the  M/V  Princess  of  the  Stars  (Sulpicio  Lines, Inc.)  maritime  tragedy (for  which  she  and  the  PAO  Forensic  Team  was  conferred  the Extraordinary  Public  Service  Award  by  the  FAMAS  on  April  1,  2013);  and  the cases  of    two female Jesus is Lord (JIL) preachers, Leonila Cafe and Adelaida Fabricante,  who were allegedly raped  and  murdered  by  two  policemen  in  Batangas;  and,  Bonita  Baran,kasambahay, who  was allegedly maltreated by her former  employers until  she lost  her right  eyesight. Her case helped in creating awareness and drawing support to the then  Kasambahay bill,  which was approved  by H. E. President Benigno S.  Aquino  III  on  January  18,  2013,  and  is  now  known as  Republic  Act  No. 10361.

 

        A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-funded study notes that the “Chief PAO and her ability to move around in many circles point out to her communicative and diplomatic skills needed by the agency.” Indeed, these skills serve the PAO and its clients in good stead, especially in the information dissemination program of the Office. ( La Salle Institute of Governance, Supreme Court of the Philippines, United Nations Development Programme (2003), 2003 Assessment of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), p. 37.)

 

        Being media savvy makes her more effective in reaching out to the public and in attending to the legal needs of the people which she virtually serves 24/7 through her book entitled,  “Legal Eagle’s Counsel: Solutions to Everyday Legal Problems” and four (4)  pro bono columns in leading newspapers in the country. These are:  Dear PAO (published daily by The Manila Times); Magtanong kay Attorney (published daily by Bulgar); Say Mo Attorney? (published every Monday, Wednesday & Friday by People’s Tonight); and  Attorney First published every Monday & Friday by  Pinoy Parazzi). Moreover, her stint as Host/Mediator of Public Atorni, Associated Broadcasting Corporation’s reality-mediation show which started in 2010 and lasted for more than two (2) years, proved her efficacy in mediating and administering justice to warring parties on air. This was recognized by respected award-giving bodies such as, the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences, the Philippine Movie Press Club, and the Catholic Mass Media Awards.

 

            Being a native of Cabcaben, Mariveles, Bataan, Chief Acosta has an impressive academic background. She was a consistent valedictorian from elementary to high school. In college, she was a consistent dean’s lister at the University of the East (UE), where she graduated with a BS General course, cum laude. When she took up her law studies at the Ateneo de Manila University and UE, she was a Dr. Antonio del Castillo Memorial Scholar and President Dalupan Scholar, respectively. In addition thereto, Chief Acosta was a Civil Service Commission Lingkod Bayan Scholarship awardee and recipient, pursuant to Executive Order 508 Series of 1992, and University Scholar at the College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD) of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, where she finished her Doctor of Social Development (DSD) course with a General Weighted Average (GWA) of 1.20. As a DSD student achiever at the CSWCD, she was also honored with Gawad Chanselor Awards.

 

             Being a dedicated mentor to law students and the approval of the “PAO bill” into Republic Act No. 9406, the law that elevated the PAO to an independent and autonomous office which she tirelessly worked and lobbied for, shine brightly in her roster of legacies in public service, legal aid and human rights advocacy.

 

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