I read your article regarding the administrative relationships of the Department of Justice (DOJ). I am just wondering if the DOJ has administrative relationships or authority over the Public Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Solicitor General, similar with that of the prosecutors, considering that these offices likewise render legal services.
Section 1 of Republic Act No. 9406 or PAO Law provides to wit:
“Section 1. Section 4, Chapter 1, Title III, Book IV of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the “Administrative Code of 1987”, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:
“SEC. 4. Organizational Structure—The Department shall consist of the following constituent units:
(1) Department Proper;
(2) Office of the Government Corporate Counsel;
(3) National Bureau of Investigation;
(4) Public Attorney’s Office (as an attached agency);
(5) Board of Pardons and Parole;
(6) Parole and Probation Administration;
(7) Bureau of Corrections;
(8) Land Registration Authority;
(9) Bureau of Immigration; and
(10) Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems.”
Given that the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is one of the attached agencies of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the latter has administrative relationship with the former. However, unlike in constituent units and agencies directly under it, an administrative relationship of control and supervision does not extend to PAO. The administrative relationship only extends laterally or as Attachment. This is in consonance with R.A. No. 9406, particularly Section 2 thereof which has amended Section 14, Chapter 5, Title III, Book IV of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 292. As specifically provided therein, “x x x The PAO shall be an independent and autonomous office attached to the Department of Justice in accordance with Sec. 38(3), Chapter 7 of Book IV of this Code for the purposes of policy and program coordination. x x x”(Section 38, par. 3, a & b, id.)
Consequently, the PAO is simply mandated to coordinate with the DOJ so as to harmonize its programs with that of the Department and also in order to align its office policies to that of national policies. Being also in the same umbrella department, the PAO is in close coordination with the DOJ for policy and program coordination, such as budgetary purposes. Insofar as day-to-day operations of the office and its employees, the supervision, control and discretion remains exclusively and only with the head of the agency, that is, with the Chief Public Attorney (Section 38 (3) (b), Chapter 7, Book IV, E. O. No. 292). Thus, Sec 5 of Republic Act no. 9406, further states:
“SEC. 5. Section 16, Chapter 5, Title III, Book IV of Executive Order No. 292, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:
“SEC. 16. The Chief Public Attorney and Other PA0 Officials. – x x x The authority and responsibility for the exercise of the mandate of the PAO and for the discharge of its powers and functions shall be vested in the Chief Public Attorney.”
Insofar as the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is concerned, while it is not included as a constituent unit of the DOJ, the latter likewise has a lateral relationship with the OSG for being an attached agency for this can be gleaned from the provisions of Section 1, E.O. No. 300, “The Office of the Solicitor General shall be an independent and autonomous office attached to the Department of Justice.” Section 34, Chapter 12, Title II, Book IV of E.O. No. 292 in relation to R.A. No. 9417 also provides that:
OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
Sec. 34. Organizational Structure.—The Office of the Solicitor General shall be an independent and autonomous office attached to the Department of Justice.” (E.O. no. 292)
As the OSG is merely an attached agency of the DOJ, the latter does not exercise direct supervision and control over the former. Such authority remains vested with the Solicitor General (Section 2, id). Hence, like the PAO, the OSG is only decreed to coordinate with the DOJ for purposes of alignment of its policies and programs and for budget preparation.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org