Arroyo counsel opposes Batacan's bid for Ombudsman

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2018 10:04 PM

MANILA - Lawyer Edna Batacan's application to become the next Ombudsman has been opposed by the lawyer of her former client, former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo. 

Ferdinand Topacio, lawyer for Mr. Arroyo and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, submitted to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) a two-page sworn letter-opposition, dated June 18, 2018, to express his “vigorous opposition” to Batacan’s bid to head the anti-graft office.

“At the outset, allow me to state that I bear no personal grudges or ill-will against Atty. Batacan. She has not appeared as opposing counsel against me in any case which I have handled, nor have I had any sort of personal interaction with her that had resulted in conflict of any kind,” Topacio stated in his letter-opposition.

Topacio narrated that Batacan was discharged as counsel of a “mutual client of some renown” whom he did not identify just yet because of the rule on privilege. 

“[T]he said client lamented to me that Atty. Batacan asked from him, and was given, the amount of eighty million pesos (P80-million) because the said person was inveigled by Atty. Batacan to the effect that the amount was being requested by certain persons in the Ombudsman in exchange for the dismissal of charges against the said client,” Topacio said. 

“Nothing, however, came out it [sic] since the case was nonetheless filed, and Atty. Batacan never refunded the money to the client until the time of this writing,” he added.

Topacio further alleged that the same client complained to him that Batacan “also tried to charge him one million pesos as photocopying expenses for handling the said case, but was unable to support such demand for reimbursement.”

He said he would try to secure a waiver from the said client so that he may reveal his identity to the JBC.

Topacio also told the council he was willing to face Batacan in a formal executive session “where I can divulge more details within the bounds of the mandates of legal ethics.”

“Verily, our country cannot be saddled with an Ombudsman for seven years with such lack of honesty and moral uprightness,” Topacio stressed. 

The JBC has acknowledged receipt of the letter-opposition and informed Topacio Batacan was made aware of it.

“Please be informed that we provided the acting JBC chairperson (Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio) and members with a copy of your letter for their information and consideration. Likewise, pursuant to Section 3 of Rule 4 of the Revised Rules of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC No. 2016-01) promulgated on 20 September 2016, we furnished Atty. Batacan with a copy thereof for her comment, if she so desires,” the JBC said in a letter addressed to Topacio. 

Batacan also represented President Rodrigo Duterte in a graft case before the Sandiganbayan.

The other applicants for Ombudsman are Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Martires, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Sandiganbayan Associate Justice Efren De La Cruz, Former Sandiganbayan Presiding Justice and Ombudsman Special Prosecutor Edilberto Sandoval, Judge Carlos Espero II, and lawyers Rey Nathaniel Ifurung, Rainier Madrid, Felito Ramirez, and Rex Rico.

They are vying for the post that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is set to vacate in July.