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PAO chief to face immorality probe

First Posted 07:42:00 10/21/2010

Regional Director Maria Gree Calinawan of the Public Attorneys' Office (PAO) is facing an administrative probe for disgraceful and immoral conduct.

The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas found basis to conduct a formal investigation into a two-year-old complaint filed by her staff that said Calinawan had an illicit relationship and bore a child out of wedlock.

The PAO official is unmarried but has a child with a policeman, according to a fact-finding inquiry.

?The documents and evidence clearly show that Calinawan gave birth out of wedlock,? said graft investigation officer Alejandro Borden, who recommended that the case be upgraded into an Ombudsman administrative case for disgraceful and immoral conduct.

Assistant Ombudsman Virginia Palanca-Santiago reviewed the ruling, and Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol and Tanodbayan Merceditas Gutierrez approved it.

In a TV report, Calinawan said that she did not know that the policeman was married when they had their relationship and that he fooled her by telling her that he was single.

She dismissed the petition as retaliation of by some staff lawyers whom she subjected to disciplinary actions.

Calinawan said that she has not yet received a copy of the Ombudsman?s resolution and may seek relief from the court to the stop the Ombudsman from proceeding with the administrative investigation.

"I am attacked not because of my job but because of my personal life," she said.

In 2008, 21 PAO-7 personnel signed a petition seeking the removal of Calinawan on allegations of graft, abuse of power, issuing memoranda based on unsubstantiated information and engaging in a relationship with a married man.

Calinawan denied the allegations.

A fact-finding inquiry by the Visayas Ombudsman yielded documents that confirmed that Calinawan gave birth in Quezon City on Oct. 25, 2004.

Abelardo Yumul Jr., the child's father, "acknowledged" the child as shown in the birth record.

Calinawan yesterday said the Ombudsman?s Office was biased because some of her filed pleadings are not acted upon by the anti-graft office.

She said five former PAO lawyers who filed the complaint against her are now with the Ombudsman?s Office.

Police personnel records in Camp Crame showed that the child?s father, Yumul, was married and a member of the Philippine National Police assigned at the National Capital Region in Camp Ricardo Papa, Taguig, Metro Manila.

A petition seeking to remove Calinawan was submitted two years ago by 15 lawyers and six staff members of PAO to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales and Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta.

The petitioners said Calinawan had ?glaringly lost the moral ascendancy to act as Regional Public Attorney.?

If proven guilty of the charge of disgraceful and immoral conduct, she faces a penalty six months to one year suspension.

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