MANILA, Philippines – As a lawyer, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo has handled a number of high-profile cases, including the Ampatuans on the Maguindanao massacre case, which left 58 people dead and is considered as the country’s worst case of election-related violence.
On several occasions, Panelo’s fashion statement can be interpreted as outrageous and eye-catching.
The 70-year-old Cabinet member can also be seen dressed like a teenager.
“It’s a fashion statement. I love dressing up since I was a kid. I don’t follow trends, I set the trend,” Panelo said.
Among the most controversial clients Panelo has defended are the members of the Ampatuan clan, who were tagged as masterminds of the Maguindanao massacre on Nov. 23, 2009.
In 2014, Panelo was hired as defense lawyer of Andal Ampatuan Jr.
But after a year, he withdrew as legal counsel due to “personal reasons.”
Panelo also handled the case of convicted rapist former Calauan, Laguna mayor Antonio Sanchez.
He also lawyered for Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., who was implicated in the multi-billion pork barrel scam.
Panelo was one of the lawyers of the Marcoses who handled cases in relation to the government’s efforts to recover alleged ill-gotten wealth stolen by the family.
Panelo was also a legal counsel of former Pres. Gloria Arroyo during her house arrest at the Veterans hospital.
Panelo also lawyered for former National Bureau of Investigation civilian agent Martin Soriano who was charged with robbery and kidnapping in 2006.
Aside from growing bonsai plants, Panelo plays the piano to cope with the stress of the daily grind.
He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Political Science from the University of Nueva Caceres and took up law at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.