Calida 'barking up the wrong tree,' says Sabio on disbarment threat
MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Jude Sabio said Solicitor General Jose Calida is using his office for intimidation after the latter threatened to seek Sabio's disbarment for filing a complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte and 11 officials before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"Atty Calida is barking up the wrong tree... He is abusing his high office by intimidating a lawyer like me who believes there is legal and factual basis to include him in the ICC. My professional view cannot be basis for disbarment, because it is presumed to be regular," said Sabio.
On April 24, Sabio accused Duterte and 11 government officials, including Calida, of alleged "mass murder" in the Philippines because of the ongoing war on drugs.
The drug war has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people, who were killed in legitimate police operations and apparent summary killings nationwide. (READ: IN NUMBERS: The Philippines' 'war on drugs')
According to Calida, Sabio should be disbarred for filing the "baseless" ICC complaint.
The Solicitor General also noted that Sabio was once sanctioned by the Supreme Court (SC) for filing a bribery complaint against a trial court judge which the SC found baseless.
The High Court fined Sabio in 2008 and warned him that "a repetition of the same or similar questioned act will be dealt with more severely."
But Sabio reasoned Calida should not even be publicizing a disbarment plan, saying doing so is "flagrantly violating the rule on confidentiality."
Sabio also argued that he had evidence against the trial court judge in his 2008 case.
"The record will show that I had evidence in the form of a Meralco receipt in the name of the judge's daughter who was then just a college student, and the affidavit of the court personnel of the judge," said Sabio.
"These pieces of evidence showed that the judge of MTCC (Municipal Trial Court in Cities) Cabuyao received a gift in the form of a house and lot at a subdivision in Cabuyao, Laguna. It was a gift given by the developer which was party litigant in many ejectment cases filed by it with the court of the judge," added the lawyer.
Sabio said the SC did not entertain his evidence because the judge was already retired.
The lawyer then argued that Calida should be the one disbarred "for his complicity in the war on drugs resulting in the extrajudicial killings."
"Further, if he makes good his threat, then I will have to defend myself and make a countercharge against him also for disbarment on the ground that he violated the rule on confidentiality by engaging in media publicity just to besmirch my character as a lawyer," added Sabio.
He said Calida and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II were cited in a Human Rights Watch report as among Duterte's senior officials potentially liable for crimes against humanity over the drug war.
"If he (Calida) has not read it, I advise him to do so for him to be enlightened," said Sabio. – with reports from Lian Buan / Rappler.com