Today is:Sunday, 20 April 2014

Mandate

Mandate 

The Office of the Solicitor General is the law firm of the Republic of the Philippines. It is tasked to represent the People of the Philippines, the Philippine Government, its Agencies and Instrumentalities, Officials and Agents (especially before appellate courts) in any litigation or matter requiring the services of a lawyer.

 

The OSG as People's Tribune

A fact that is probably little known or understood in our legal circles is the role or function of the OSG as people's tribune or advocate. As the Supreme Court observed in Gonzales vs. Chavez, 205 SCRA 816: "Indeed in the final analysis, it is the Filipino people as a collectivity that constitutes the Republic of the Philippines. Thus, the distinguished client of the OSG is the people themselves of which the individual lawyers in said office are part." While the OSG is the counsel of the Republic and government departments and agencies in legal controversies that reach the courts, it likewise is mandated by law to see to it that justice is done all citizens in our courts. Thus, the Supreme Court in at least four decisions upheld the role of the OSG as "people's tribune" and supported its taking issue with, instead of defending the actions of, some government agencies in appropriate cases involving private citizens.


Striving for Legal Victories Amidst the Vast Concerns of the Sovereign

It is commonly assumed that the measure of the success of any Solicitor General is to win his cases. In the final analysis, however, one's mind should not be riveted to the arithmetic of how many cases have been won or lost-and perhaps this is where the distinction lies between private and public advocacy. For in public advocacy, what matters most is the contribution of invaluable inputs and the opportunity to share in the task and responsibility of dispensing justice.

The challenge to the stewardship of every Solicitor General is not necessarily winning the government's cases but seeing to it that justice is done - consistent with the OSG's role and function as "The People's Tribune." Thus, the motto of our counterpart American Office - the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States - is: "The United States wins its point wherever justice is done its citizens in the courts." This challenge of seeing to it that justice is done in every case being handled by his Office ought to be the established standard in gauging the success of any Solicitor General.

Finally, it must be stressed that the OSG has a "dual responsibility" to both the Judicial Branch and the Executive Branch. The Solicitor General is first and foremost, an Officer of the Court, and it is his inescapable responsibility to uphold the rule of law at all times. It is therefore imperative for the OSG to maintain the trust and confidence that our courts, specially our appellate courts, repose in it.

But equally important, of course, is to maintain the trust and confidence that the President has in the OSG and on its readiness and ability to support and defend the Constitution which the President and all in government are duty-bound to uphold.

 The vital role and function of the OSG was best summarized by the Supreme Court as follows: "(E)ndowed with a broad perspective that spans the legal interest of virtually the entire government officaldom, the OSG may be expected to transcend the parochial concerns of a particular client agency and instead, promote and protect the public weal. Given such objectivity, it can discern, metaphorically speaking, the panoply that is the forest and not just the individual trees. Not merely will it strive for a legal victory circumscribed by the narrow interest of the client office or official, but as well, the vast concerns of the sovereign which it is committed to serve."

 

Function

ADMINISTRATIVE CODE 1987

Book IV, Title III, Chapter 12

 

SECTION 34 : Organizational Structure 

The Office of the Solicitor General shall be an independent and autonomous office attached to the Department of Justice.

The Office of the Solicitor General shall be headed by the Solicitor General, who is the principal law officer and legal defender of the Government. He shall have the authority and responsibility for the exercise of the Office’s mandate and for the discharge of its duties and functions, and shall have supervision and control over the Office and its constituent units.

The Solicitor General shall be assisted by a Legal Staff composed of fifteen (15) Assistant Solicitors General, and such number of Solicitors and Trial Attorneys as may be necessary to operate the Office, which shall be divided into fifteen (15) divisions: Provided, That the Solicitor General may assign or transfer the Assistant Solicitors General, Solicitors or Trial Attorneys to any of the divisions.

 

SECTION 35: Powers and Functions

The Office of the Solicitor General shall represent the Government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. When authorized by the President or head of the office concerned, it shall also represent government owned or controlled corporations. The Office of the Solicitor General shall discharge duties requiring the services of lawyers. It shall have the following specific powers and functions.

  • Represent the Government in the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in all criminal proceedings; represent the Government and its officers in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and all other courts or tribunals in all civil actions and special proceedings in which the Government or any officer thereof in his official capacity is a party.
  • Investigate, initiate court action, or in any manner proceed against any person, corporation or firm for the enforcement of any contract, bond, guarantee, mortgage, pledge or other collateral executed in favor of the Government. Where proceedings are to be conducted outside of the Philippines the Solicitor General may employ counsel to assist in the discharge of the aforementioned responsibilities.
  • Appear in any court in any action involving the validity of any treaty, law, executive order or proclamation, rule or regulation when in his judgment his intervention is necessary or when requested by the Court.
  • Appear in all proceedings involving the acquisition or loss of Philippine citizenship.
  • Represent the Government in all land registration and related proceedings. Institute actions for the reversion to the Government of lands of the public domain and improvements thereon as well as lands held in violation of the Constitution.
  • Prepare, upon request of the President or other proper officer of the National Government, rules and guidelines for government entities governing the preparation of contracts, making investments, undertaking of transactions, and drafting of forms or other writings needed for official use, with the end in view of facilitating their enforcement and insuring that they are entered into or prepared conformably with law and for the best interests of the public.
  • Deputize, whenever in the opinion of the Solicitor General the public interest requires, any provincial or city fiscal to assist him in the performance of any function or discharge of any duty incumbent upon him, within the jurisdiction of the aforesaid provincial or city fiscal. When so deputized, the fiscal shall be under the control and supervision of the Solicitor General with regard to the conduct of the proceedings assigned to the fiscal, and he may be required to render reports or furnish information regarding the assignment.
  • Deputize legal officers of government departments, bureaus, agencies and offices to assist the Solicitor General and appear or represent the Government in cased involving their respective offices, brought before the courts and exercise supervision and control over such legal Officers with respect to such cases.
  • Call on any department, bureau, office, agency or instrumentality of the Government for such service, assistance and cooperation as may be necessary in fulfilling its functions and responsibilities and for this purpose enlist the services of any government official or employee in the pursuit of his tasks.
  • Departments, bureaus, agencies, offices, instrumentalities and corporations to whom the Office of the Solicitor General renders legal services are authorized to disburse funds from their sundry operating and other funds for the latter Office. For this purpose, the Solicitor General and his staff are specifically authorized to receive allowances as may be provided by the Government offices, instrumentalities and corporations concerned, in addition to their regular compensation.
  • Represent, upon the instructions of the President, the Republic of the Philippines in international litigations, negotiations or conferences where the legal position of the Republic must be defended or presented.
  • Act and represent the Republic and/or the people before any court, tribunal, body or commission in any matter, action or proceedings which, in his opinion affects the welfare of the people as the ends of justice may require; and
  • Perform such other functions as may be provided by law.

 

SECTION 36 : APPOINTMENTS 

The Solicitor General shall be appointed by the President and shall have the same qualifications for appointment, rank, prerogatives, and privileges as those of the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals.

The Assistant Solicitors General and the Solicitors shall be appointed by the President upon recommendation of the Solicitor General. The trial Attorneys and administrative personnel in the Office of the Solicitor General shall be appointed by the Solicitor General.

 


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