by Joel Roja/Asianjournal.com
MANILA — National Security Adviser during the Ramos administration Jose Almonte on Monday said that another people power is needed for the country to have a “good President.”
Speaking before the gathering of the country’s top lawyers belonging to the Villaraza Cruz Marcelo & Angangco, popularly known as The Firm, Almonte stressed that the leader of the country must lead by example in order for democracy to work.
“What we need…if we were able to mobilize a people power in 1986 to bring down a bad President, my suggestion is this: We have to organize another people power to make a good President. This is the only medium to prevent our problems from taking root,” Almonte said without elaborating.
Almonte served as a guest speaker during the cocktails held at the Rigodon Ballroom of the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City to welcome the firm’s seven returning “prodigal sons” — former Secretary of National Defense and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Avelino Cruz, Former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo, former Undersecretary Rafael Antonio M. Santos, former Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Joe Nathan P. Tenefrancia, former Undersecretary of National Defense and Undersecretary, Office of the President Rodel Cruz, former Undersecretary, Office of the President and Assistant Secretary of National Defense Aida Araceli G. Roxas-Rivera and former Solicitor and head executive assistant of the Office of the Ombudsman John Jerico L. Balisnomo.
Almonte also took the opportunity to bewail the recent ruckus in the House of Representatives which led to the ouster of Speaker Jose de Venecia saying that such proceedings “diminished the soul of the Filipino nation.”
Aside from Almonte, other prominent figures who attended The Firm’s gathering were former President Ramos, Senate President Manuel Villar, Senators Joker Arroyo, Franklin Drilon, Edgardo Angara, Palace spokesman Ignacio Bunye, Socialite Baby Arenas, former Senator Ernesto Maceda and other bigwigs from the legal profession and business sector.
The law firm, originally known as “Carpio, Villaraza and Cruz,” was renamed “Villaraza & Angangco” law office after its founder, now Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, and Cruz, who joined the government as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, left the firm.
In an interview, Marcelo, who also served as Solicitor General in 2001, said he would not be handling cases against the government but more on corporate litigations.
Although he has received feelers to represent Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr., star witness on the alleged bribery scandal involving the US$330 million national broadband deal, Marcelo said he is barred from accepting cases against former clients.
Under Rule 6.03 of the Rules of Court, a lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service.
Initially, Marcelo said, he thought of doing some consultancy work or return to teaching following his resignation as Ombudsman. But he realized that he needed a higher income to be able to support his family, thus, he decided to rejoin his former law firm.
“I will try to bring in my experience in the government in handling corporate disputes. In can use my experience in the government in coming up with creative solutions that will also keep the interest of the government protected.
Marcelo led the legal panel that successfully prosecuted and secured the conviction of former President Estrada for plunder.
On the other hand, Cruz said he would focus on cases pertaining to tourism, property development and power sector.
Cruz said he is excited to be back in the private practice which he missed when he was still in the government.
“I feel more relax now until when I was in the government,” Cruz said.
Cruz oversaw inter-agency efforts in public policy litigation and international arbitration during his stint in the government.