SolGen to seek disbarment of lawyer seeking ICC prosecution of Duterte

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File photo of Solicitor General Jose Calida

MANILA, Philippines — Solicitor General Jose Calida said he will seek the disbarment of lawyer Jude Jose Sabio, the counsel of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, for filing “baseless suits.”

Although Calida aired his threat days after Sabio asked the International Criminal Court to investigate President Rodrigo Duterte over the thousands of deaths in his war on drugs, he referenced a bribery charge filed by the lawyer against the former presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Cabuyao, Laguna, for which he was sanctioned by the Supreme Court in 2008.

The tribunal cited Sabio for violating the proscription in the lawyers’ Code of Professional Responsibility against wittingly or willingly promoting or suing any groundless suit including baseless administrative complaints against judges and other court officers and employees, Calida said.

He also called Sabio, who ran for the Senate last year and lost, as a “perennial loser stubbornly refuses to heed the warning from the Supreme Court that if he commits the same infraction, he will be punished more severely.”

“It appears that this lawyer is in the business of maliciously filing baseless suits based only on hearsays and unfounded suspicions,” Calida said.

“We will see him in court,” he added.

On April 24, Sabio asked the ICC to probe Duterte and 11 other officials, among them Calida, for possible crimes against humanity.

Calida claimed Sabio “took my words out of context in order to include me in the communication” he filed with the ICC.

He furher claimed Sabio was acting on orders of the “yellow cult,” the term the administration and its supporters use to refer to the previous government, and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who he accused of coddling Matobato and described as “a yellow sympathizer and soul brother of Senator Leila de Lima,” who is detained while awaiting trial on drug charges filed against her by the Department of Justice.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II also claimed Sabio’s action was part of a plot to destabilize the government, an allegation administration officials have regularly raised against critics of Duterte’s war on drugs, including foreign media.