SOLICITOR General Jose Calida must have a busy schedule indeed.
In January, the government’s top lawyer—on his own initiative— filed a manifestation with the Court of Appeals recommending that it overturn the serious illegal detention conviction of alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles. Napoles had been convicted by a Makati court and sentenced 30 years in jail for holding her employee and eventual pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy against his will.
Why Calida, whose office receives about 30,000 appeals on criminal cases a year, would bother to lawyer for a woman that the state accuses of stealing P10 billion from the government is a mystery, and his explanation about “righting an injustice” simply falls flat, when so many other injustices are crying out to be corrected.
But now Calida has moved on to more important things.
On Monday, he called a press conference to commend members of the Duterte Youth, who went to the Feb. 25 Edsa People Power celebration to raise their fists and hold up a tarpaulin expressing their support for the President.
The move seemed designed to provoke the anti-Duterte crowd and triggered a confrontation with a visibly upset supporter of former President Benigno Aquino III, the entertainer Jim Paredes, who was caught on video haranguing them for disrupting the celebration. “Look at me! Look at me!” Paredes said at one point, his face less than a foot away from a pro-Duterte supporter. “Now tell me. Do you like Duterte? He’s not responsible for 7,000 deaths?”
On Monday, Calida retaliated.
“Jim Paredes, look at me,” he said at his press conference. “Don’t pick a fight with these young people. Look for a person your age. You called them cowards. Try to tell me I’m a coward.”
The state’s top lawyer then awarded membership pins to the Duterte Youth to a civic group called “Republic Defenders.”
Calida also egged a lawyer present to offer his services for free to the Duterte Youth so they could sue Paredes for “unjust vexation and theft” for grabbing their tarpaulins.
Calida made clear the group would have his full support.
“The Office of the Solicitor General is the republic’s defender and the tribune of the people,” Calida declared. “In this case, we have invited them here because we are supporting them as part of the defenders of the republic, not of a party, or of a person, but of the Philippines.”
Perhaps Calida believes that no cause is small enough and no client obnoxious enough for the people’s tribune. We suggest, however, that he lawyer up, as he, too, might be charged one day for unjustly vexing us by wasting his time on all this nonsense.