Hon. Persida V. Rueda-Acosta, the fourth (4th) and youngest Chief Public Attorney yet, of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) was sworn into office by Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Feb. 19, 2001.
From the time of her appointment up to now, the PAO has been blessed with cases that earned this Office, precious space in the annals of Philippine history. Some of the said cases (handled personally by Chief Acosta) are the following:
1) the cases of death convicts Roberto Lara and Roderick Licayanwhose executions were stayed after the PAO’s filing of a Motion to Reopen the case before the Supreme Court due to a newly discovered evidence, which Chief Acosta stated in her oral arguments before the justices;
2) the MILF and CPP-NDF’s cases. The dropping of cases filed against some of their leaders and members, which the PAO chief had represented led to the cessation of hostilities and resumption of peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;
3) the case of thirteen- year-old Angelica, rape victim and deporteefrom Sabah, Malaysia. In this case Chief Acosta was able to prove that the Philippines, through the PAO, is a staunch defender of childrens rights;
4) the cases of former President Joseph Estrada and his followersduring the latter’s May 1, 2001 rebellion/siege of the Malacanang. In handling the said cases, the PAO was able to contribute in maintaining the stability of the Philippines during that sensitive period in the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, and
5) the case ofÂ ex-MSgt. Pablo Martinez and 14 other military personnel convicted for the killing of the martyred Senator Benigno â€œNinoyâ€ S. Aquino. The PAO has solid, credible and compelling fragments of forensic evidence backing the statements of witnesses, which could finally unveil the truth that has long been shrouded in the Aquino-Galman double murder case.
In connection with the case, the Sandiganbayan issued recently a resolution granting the PAO’s request for an alias warrant against Capt. Felipe Valerio, one of the accused in the Aquino-Galman case who remains at large.
Chief Acosta’s dedication to the cause of the indigent clients of PAO has been acknowledged by the government, and non-governmental offices/organizations both here and abroad, by giving her awards and grants, which include the following, to wit:
a)ÂLingkod Bayan Award (the Highest Presidential Award for Outstanding Public Service);
b) Huwarang Pilipino Award(recipient of said award for 2005 and 2003);
c) Humanitarian and Community Service Award, for being One of Quezon City‘s Outstanding Citizens for 2004;
d) Soroptimists Woman of Distinction Award;
e) National Maagap Award for Public Service;
f)Tokyo, Japan’ Nippon Foundation-Asian Public Intellectuals Fellowships (API) research grant, for having been chosen asÂ API Senior Fellow, and
g) The International Visitor Program (with a focus on the â€œU.S. Judicial System) upon the invitation of the United States Embassy, Washington D.C., U.S.A.
Articles written by the Chief Public Attorney which have been published in several newspapers include the following, to wit:
a) Evidence: Vital Link to Truth and Justice, Manila Bulletin, July 26, 2006, p. 11.
b) The Road Less Travelled By, Manila Bulletin, February 9, 2006, p.11.
c) A Shared Mission on Child Diversion, Manila Bulletin, January 3, 2006, p. 11.
d) Death Penalty: Not a Deterrent to Criminality,Manila Bulletin, December 7, 2005, p. 11.
e) 33 Years of Committed, Compassionate, and Competent Free Legal Service, Manila Bulletin, October 26, 2005, p. 11.
f) Ushering Batch 2005 to Life’s Ongoing Journey of Learning(Speech delivered at the PICC during the Commencement Exercises of the Philippine College of Criminology and Manila Law College on May 14, 2005), Manila Bulletin, May 17, 2005, p. 11.
g) Rendezvous with History: PAO’ Destiny? (Speech delivered during the meeting of Rotary Club of Manila, on September 9, 2004, at the Makati AB Room, Makati Shangri-La Hotel),www.rcmanila.org/Archives.
Her being an ardent advocate of free legal aid and human rights has also been noticed by the press.
The chief of the PAO is “indefatigable and incorruptible,states the newspaper Today, in its Editorial, dated January 17, 2004.
When Persida is convinced that there has been an injustice, she is energy personified. She will, one is convinced, go to any lengths to set things right, says Ducky Paredes in his article “Who Really Killed Ninoy?” published in the broadsheet Malaya, dated May 30, 2005.
The recent passing of the PAO Bill both at the lower house and upper house is an added feather to the PAO Chief’s cap. The said bill was transmitted to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for signing into a law. The bill provides for the creation of additional positions for PAO lawyers to augment the 2,255 court salas nationwide. One public attorney to a sala will avoid the lack of lawyers and case overload in court salas.
She remains nonchalant in the midst of all this. Because needless to say, her focus is her impassioned concern to her duties as a public servant, law professor (at the Ateneo de Manila Law School and Bulacan State University) and wife to Atty. Benedicto M. Acosta Jr., and mother to daughters Kayla Gethsemane (14) and Kamilla Persida (9).
Chief Acosta hails from Cabcaben, Mariveles, Bataan. She is the fourth (4th) among the nine (9) children of Florencio Rueda and the late Herminia Venturina Rueda. She was a consistent valedictorian from elementary to high school. In college, she was a consistent dean’s lister at UE, where she graduated with a BS General course,cum laude. When she took up her law studies at the Ateneo de Manila University and UE, she was Dr. Antonio del Castillo Memorial Scholar and President Dalupan Scholar, respectively.Her scholastic feat was capped by her placing fourth (4th) in the Bar Examinations of 1989.