File photo shows Peter Joemel Advincula, who claims to be Bikoy, at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Handout photo
Amid criticism on IBP, ex-head says Advincula's concerns not to be belittled
Kristine Joy Patag ( - May 10, 2019 - 11:21am

MANILA, Philippines — The doors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines are always open for those who feel aggrieved, and Peter Joemel Advincula—who confessed to be “Bikoy”—raised concerns that cannot be belittled, a former head of the IBP said.

In a statement Friday, former IBP head Jose Aguila Grapilon said: “[T]he doors and offices of the IBP are open to anyone who feel aggrieved by some violation of the law and who seek redress in any proper forum—be it the courts, our various quasi-judicial agencies, or even in the halls of Congress.”

Quoting the IBP guidelines, Grapilon stressed: “[L]egal aid is not matter of charity. It is a means for the correction of social imbalances that may and often ldo lead to injustice, for which reason it is a public responsibility of the Bar."

The current dean of the Philippine Law School also explained that anyone can come to the IBP to seek free legal aid—through the National Center for Legal Aid—but applications would be subjected to evaluation.

Grapilon further explained: “The issue facing Mr. Advincula is one concerning his freedoms of speech and of expression...his concerns are ones that cannot be belittled—especially in these dark times for our country and our constitutional rights."

Advincula sought free legal aid, but was rejected

The national board of the IBP and its president Abdiel Dan Fajardo, in particular, have been at the receiving end of criticisms after Advincula arrived  at the Integrated Bar of the Philippines office in Pasig City, Monday noon, to face the media.

Following Advincula’s statement, IBP President Abdiel Dan Fajardo was quick to clarify that the IBP has nothing to do with the man, and that when the press conference was held, they had yet to read his affidavit or the complaints he meant to file.

But the following day, the Davao chapter of the IBP raised questions on its national chapter’s “staging” of the said press conference, despite the IBP President Abdiel Dan Fajardo’s immediate clarification that the organization was caught unaware by “Bikoy’s” supposed arrival at their office.Fajardo stressed that the NCLA will still vet and evaluate Advincula’s claim and case before they can accept him as a client.

But IBP Davao chapter said: “Certainly, the decision of the present leadership of the IBP National is not in accord with the said purposes. For one, Bikoy's storyline is polluted and it's source comes from the very mouth of an alleged suborner himself.”

On Wednesday, the IBP said that it will not be extending free legal aid to Advincula after the NCLA deemed his application did not pass the standards provided by its manual of operations.

Grapilon said he spoke out to defend the IBP, “an institution that has been at the forefront in defending our collective constitutional rights since the dark days of Martial Law.”

Calida calls for Fajardo's resignation

On Thursday, Solicitor General Jose Calida has also joined the fray as he called for the resignation of IBP president Abdiel Dan Fajardo, whose term is to end by the end of June.

“Fajardo has turned the IBP into a highly politicized organization when it should advance the rule of law and stand for truth and justice. He is a disgrace to the IBP,” Calida said, adding that Fajardo does not speak for all members of the IBP.

“But his actions reflect badly on the organization and consequently, the legal profession,” Calida added.

Calida also noted that IBP, under Fajardo, had asked the Supreme Court to reverse its decision when it granted the government's quo warranto plea to boot out former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno from the tribunal.

Rights groups, lawmakers and legal luminaries also raised questions on the landmark SC ruling on quo warranto.

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