Profile of Chief Public Attorney
Profile of Chief Public Attorney
Persida V. Rueda-Acosta
Honorable Persida V. Rueda-Acosta, nationwide head of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), is the 4th Placer in the 1989 Bar Examinations. Chief Acosta is a Harvard Senior Executive Fellow (HSEF) and 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. Chief Acosta 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).
Her expertise on legal aid was recognized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). She was invited by this office 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 Chief Acosta 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 washeld also in 2011 in Berlin, Germany.
Chief Acosta 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.
Chief Acosta is a multi-awarded public servant. She is a recipient of the Lingkod Bayan Award, the Highest Presidential Award for Outstanding Public Service,from the Civil Service Commission. It was given to her on Sept. 22, 2004, out of her selfless and tireless dedication in saving something priceless, the lives of death row convicts. 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 lingkod bayan, has also been acknowledged abroad and beyond the confines of the Philippine government bureaucracy. She was conferred the 2013 Most Outstanding Filipino Woman in the Field of Legal Jurisprudence for Public Good, the2012 Outstanding in Public Service and Legal Jurisprudence Award and the 2011 Most Outstanding Public Servant Award by the California, USA-based Gawad Amerika Foundation. Recently, on September 29, 2013, COMGUILD, an organization which closely coordinates with students and academicians through its organized seminars, conferred on her the Outstanding Public Servant Award in Legal Assistance. Earlier, on August 2, 2013,a well-knownnon-governmental organization, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) gave her a Special Award for Government Service during its 15th Founding Anniversary.
Moreover, her stint for more than two (2) years in the television and broadcast industry as Host/Mediator of Public Atorni, Associated Broadcasting Corporation’s reality-mediation show had not only been welcomed but honored as well by the award-giving bodies in this field. Through the said public service program, her efficacy in mediating and administering justice to warring parties on air earned her accolades from the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS), the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC), and the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA).
The FAMAS gave her the Exemplary Achievement Award on Sept. 25, 2012 andAchievement in Public Service Awardon Dec. 10, 2011. From the PMPC, she received the Best Public Service Program Host Awards on Nov. 18, 2012 and Nov. 22, 2011; and from the CMMA, the Special Citation for Best Public ServiceProgram on Oct. 19, 2011.An organization ofrenowned members of the academe,calledGawad Tanglawalso granted her and her show, the 2012 Best Public Affairs Program Award as well as the 2013 Best Public Affairs Program Award. Moreover,Chief Acosta is the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino’s 2010 Gawad Francisco Balagtas honoree and Aliw Awards Foundation Incorporated’s 2012 Special Awardee for Excellence in Public Service, as well as this foundation’s 2009 Discovery of the Year awardee in Poetry. Evidently, her leaning in culture and the arts and being media savvy make 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).
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. Included among these are current and previous cases that have been entrusted to her and the PAO, to wit: the cases of – 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 FAMASon April 1, 2013); former trusted aide of Janet Napoles, Dominga Cadelina, who was jailed for alleged qualified theft but whose freedom was granted by the court through a Demurrer to Evidence filed by the PAO led by Chief Acosta; two female Jesus is Lord (JIL) preachers, Leonila Cafe and Adelaida Fabricante, who were allegedly raped and murdered by two policemen in Batangas; OFW Hedelito Trinidad, whom Chief Acosta successfully sought the quashal/dismissal of the Information filed against him which indicted him in a Kidnapping for Ransom case and Violation of Anti-Carnapping Act; Bonita Baran, a kasambahay, who was allegedly maltreated by her former employers until she lost her right eyesight; cases of two more maltreated kasambahays, Lirio Jestre and the late Rochelle Lopez, who allegedly was also killed by her former employer; political detainee Ericson Acosta, whose treatment for renal disease at the NKTI she has successfully sought as well as his subsequent release from detention; “Angelica,” 13-year-old rape victim and deportee from Sabah, Malaysia; the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Communist Party of the Philippines/National Democratic Front/New People’s Army (CPP-NDF-NPA) in connection with the peace talks of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) with these groups; the cases of former President Joseph Estrada when she was appointed by the Sandiganbayan as one of his counsels de oficio; and the rebellion cases of the 149 supporters of former President Estrada, in connection with the May 1, 2001 Malacañang siege.
This devoted public servant who hails from Cabcaben, Mariveles, Bataan, 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.
Being a dedicated mentor of her law students at the Ateneo de Manila University 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 Chief Acosta tirelessly worked and lobbied for, shine brightly in her roster of legacies in public service, legal aid and human rights advocacy.