“PAO’s Three Principles: Transparency, Accountability, and Empowerment”

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The Public Attorney’s Office: Transparency, Accountability, and Empowerment

The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is an institution that consistently enjoys high trust ratings. This is largely due to the commitment and dedication of its personnel, which includes 2,500 public lawyers, who are guided by three core principles: transparency, accountability, and empowerment.

Transparency: A Pillar of the PAO

One of the key factors that contribute to the public’s trust in the PAO is its commitment to transparency. PAO Chief Persida Rueda-Acosta emphasizes the importance of open communication and accessibility. In an interview with “Primetimes with Atty. Lia Badillo-Crisostomo,” she stated, “Everybody can text or communicate directly with me through my public phone, any time, day and night, that I see and read myself. I would know quickly the problem of every Filipino.”

This level of transparency extends beyond personal accessibility. Rueda-Acosta also highlights the proper utilization of the PAO’s budget as part of their commitment to transparency. She states, “That is transparency, and that includes how PAO spends its budget properly.”

Rueda-Acosta takes pride in the clean record of the PAO when it comes to spending taxpayers’ money. Over her 23 years as the PAO Chief, there have been no disallowances or suspensions related to budget management. She proudly states, “It’s now more than 23 years that PAO has been spending its budget wisely and accordingly.”

Accountability: Upholding Standards and Due Process

Accountability is another fundamental principle of the PAO. Rueda-Acosta emphasizes that every lawyer and staff member of the PAO is held accountable for their actions, whether they are positive or negative. She mentions that in the past, she has approved the dismissal of several public attorneys who faced complaints related to their job performance. However, she emphasizes that due process is always accorded to ensure fairness.

While Rueda-Acosta is strict in enforcing internal and civil service rules, she also recognizes the importance of recognizing and rewarding excellence. She mentions that she is quick to give rewards, including cash incentives, as long as there are savings and allocations for the PAO personnel who have performed exceptionally well.

Empowerment: Equipping Public Lawyers for Service

Rueda-Acosta has been a driving force in promoting the empowerment of public lawyers within the PAO. She has spearheaded mandatory continuing legal education programs for over 2,500 public lawyers. These programs aim to enhance their skills and effectiveness in providing legal services to the underprivileged. Regular training and seminars are conducted to ensure that the lawyers are equipped to serve the needs of the marginalized population.

One notable upcoming event is the scheduled training in August at the Philippine International Convention Center. Rueda-Acosta believes that empowering public lawyers through education and training is crucial in their mission to extend legal services to the poor. She states, “We have regular training and seminars for them to be more effective in extending legal services to our poor countrymen; that’s empowerment.”

A Trusted Institution and Leader

Rueda-Acosta’s dedication and the trust placed in her and the PAO by the people have been sources of inspiration throughout her more than two-decade-long tenure as the Chief Public Attorney. She mentions that the gratitude and support she receives from the public when she walks the streets reaffirm her commitment to serving the people.

The trust and confidence in the PAO and Rueda-Acosta’s leadership have been recognized through various surveys. In 2021, a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed that the PAO and its public attorneys emerged as the most trusted among the justice sector and professionals. Additionally, a recent SWS survey conducted on December 8-11, 2023, identified Rueda-Acosta as one of the top picks in the Senate race for the 2025 midterm elections.

The PAO’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and empowerment, along with Rueda-Acosta’s leadership, has solidified its reputation as a trusted institution. Through their unwavering dedication to serving the Filipino people, the PAO continues to make a significant impact on the lives of the underprivileged and marginalized members of society.

Source: The Manila Times

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