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. She is 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. Dr. Acosta 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.
Dr. Acosta was appointed as nationwide head of the PAO on February 23, 2001 by former President and current Member of the House of Representatives Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Since then, she has become a herald of hope to the indigents and other clients of the PAO who are searching for justice. She also served as Chief Public Attorney during the administration of former President Benigno S. Aquino III. She is honored to continuously serve in her capacity as Chief Public Attorney in the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
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, the vital link of Public Financial Management to Free Legal Aid has been highlighted by Dr. Acosta in her presentation entitled, “The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO): Financial Management Framework Towards An Empowered Free Legal Aid Agency and Efficient Administration of Justice” which she delivered during the 30th Annual International Training Conference of the International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management (ICGFM). It was held on May 16-20, 2016, at the Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay,
She is a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law. Her expertise in legal aid has been recognized by the United Nations and other international organizations. Recently, Dr. Acosta served as Resource Person in international conferences on Legal Aid in
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: Pregnant Inmates in Philippine Prisons: Securing and Saving Them with Gender-Sensitive Policy Reforms, ICPA’s 17th Annual Conference, October 25 – 30, 2015, Melbourne, Australia; 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,
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 September 22, 2004. 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 Corazon C. Aquino. Her remarkable feat as Presidential Lingkod Bayan Awardee has also been acknowledged abroad. Her most recent international recognitions are the 2015 Outstanding Alumna Award from the University of the East Association of America, Hawaii Chapter (UEAAHC), and the Congratulatory Certificate from the 28th Legislature of the State of
Dr. Acosta does not rest on her past 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 the murdered cyclist Mark Vincent Garalde, and tortured and killed motorcyclist John dela Riarte; the cases of stranded Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA); the cases of elderly couple Esteban and Salvacion Cortabista, Jerome Sulit, Rufina Cruz, Rowena Otic, Milagrosa Cadiente, and other victims of the “laglag/tanim-bala” or “bullet-planting” scam; the cases of minor student Krisel Mallari in fighting for her right to study in a school of her own choice, and an eight-year-old pupil who was a victim of verbal abuse by her own teacher; the cases of political prisoner Ericson Acosta, and 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); the cases of two female Jesus is Lord (JIL) preachers who were allegedly raped and murdered by two policemen in Batangas; and, Bonita Baran, a former kasambahay, who was allegedly maltreated by her previous 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 former President Benigno S. Aquino III on January 18, 2013, and is now known as Republic Act No. 10361.
A 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 three (3) 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); and,
Dr. Acosta, a native of Cabcaben, Mariveles,
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.