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Palace axes assistant solicitor over sexual harassment raps

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Malacañang has reportedly fired an assistant solicitor general (ASG) over sexual harassment charges.

Sources also said that an officer-in-charge (OIC) has already been appointed to the vacated post in the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG).

ASG Derek Puertollano, who is a career official, was reportedly dismissed over administrative charges of sexual harassment prompted by his legal interns.

Puertollano is said to be appealing the decision, but Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra has already appointed an OIC to the vacated legal division.

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, quoted by reports, said: “These harrowing incidents left complainants traumatized, scarring them both for life.”

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Bersamin said Puertollano is also “administratively liable for the grave offense of sexual harassment” through unwanted touching of the private part of the body, and the less grave offenses of sexual harassment through unwanted touching or brushing against a victim’s body, and through surreptitiously looking at a person’s private part.

Sources from OSG confirmed to the Standard that Puertollano was sacked by the Office of the President per a decision promulgated last Feb. 22.

The investigation was done by OSG, and subsequently submitted its report to OP, a source added.

In 2016, Puertollano, one of the 30 assistants of then-Solicitor General Jose Calida was arrested in Washington D.C. where he was attending a seminar on international arbitration, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Justice had confirmed.

Then-DFA spokesman Charles Jose confirmed that the Philippine Embassy in Washington had been extending legal assistance to Puertollano after he was charged  on Nov. 19, 2016 with “misdemeanor sexual abuse of a child or minor” for allegedly molesting a 13-year-old boy.

Jose said Puertollano was arraigned before Judge William Jackson of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia shortly after his arrest and he pleaded not guilty. He was granted bail
but was prohibited from leaving the United States and ordered to
surrender his passport.

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