PEREZ 'CLEARED' BY SUCCESSOR

Manila, Jan. 23, 2003 - Newly seated Justice Secretary Simeon Datumanong yesterday virtually cleared his predecessor Perez in connection with his undue haste in issuing a legal opinion on the Impsa contract.

Speaking during his first press briefing, Datumanong yesterday said Perez cannot be faulted per se for issuing the legal opinion four days after the Arropyo administration took power.

Datumanong said without clear proof of any bribery, Perez should not be held liable for issuing the opinion.

"My belief is that for rendering a legal responsibility and duty, you cannot be faulted because you are doing what the law requires you to do," Datumanong said yesterday.

"When a secretary of justice does his sworn responsibility among which is rendering legal opinion, is doing what is required of him by law and I don't think anyone can be sued for doing what is required by law," he added.

Malacañang yesterday refused to comment on the issue.

"I am sure that Secretary Perez will be able to defend himself," presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said.


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