Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta believes that public defenders are co-equal with public prosecutors and deserve fair treatment and benefits.
The agency wrote the Department of Budget and Management to request an adjustment in its senior officials’ salaries and benefits, including privileges in line with the PAO Law, Republic Act 9406 and RA 10071 or the National Prosecution Service Law.
It wants a salary upgrade for the positions of the chief public attorney, deputy chief public attorney, public attorney 5 (regional public attorneys) and public attorney 4.
PAO, which is under the Department of Justice, extends free legal assistance to indigent clients in criminal, civil, labor, administrative and other quasi-judicial cases.
The DBM, however, declined PAO’s request as the NPS law came after the PAO Law.
It cited Section 16 stating that “The salaries, allowances and other emoluments herein fixed shall not apply to officers other than those of prosecutors in the National Prosecution Service, notwithstanding any provision of law assimilating the salaries of other officers to those herein mentioned.”
PAO filed a motion for reconsideration, citing related judicial pronouncements, including the March 2017 decision by the Supreme Court in connection with the case involving the Career Service Executive Board (CSEB) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
PAO’s Region 4-A director and head executive assistant Revelyn Ramos-Dacpano said PAO has already written Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla to ask for his support in its appeal for the upgrade of the wage allocation of senior public attorneys and public prosecutors.