(Eagle News)–Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday, April 16, slammed Vice President Leni Robredo’s statements the Office of the Solicitor General was against martial law victims when it rejected a US court’s settlement deal for them.
“Her statements are outright lies. She must be confused,” Calida said, noting that the OSG has “always been committed to advancing the interests of the Republic, and we will continue to do so,” and that her statements were therefore tantamount to demeaning and belittling the work of OSG lawyers for decades.
In explaining the OSG’s rejection of the New York court’s proposed deal, Calida said the OSG has “always maintained, even before I became Solicitor General, that the cases of ill-gotten wealth should be litigated before the Sandiganbayan, and not before the US courts.”
He said participating in the US case would mean waiving the Philippines’ sovereign immunity.
Calida added the deal was grossly disadvantageous to the Republic and illegal under Philippine law, noting that the Philippines would get only $4 million from the settlement.
He said the proposed settlement also required that the Philippine government grant immunity to Vilma Bautista and move to dismiss the cases against her in the Sandiganbayan.
“The government cannot grant immunity to Vilma Bautista. She is a principal defendant in a case currently pending before the Sandiganbayan. The authority of the (Presidential Commission on Good Government) to grant such immunity is limited only to a witness who can provide material and relevant information or testify against a defendant in an ill-gotten wealth case,” Calida said.
He added “even the human rights claimants will get the wrong end of the deal in the case.”
“Their lawyer Robert Swift has sought a hefty $4.125 million in attorney’s fees out of the $13.75 million, while the rest would be divided among the 6,500 claimants, who will receive a measly $1,500 each..How in the world can you say that is fair or just?” he asked.