Sunday, November 1, 2009

DOJ expands free legal aid to cops

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has expanded the coverage of its program which provides free legal assistance to policemen who are facing charges related to their duties.
Under Department Circular No. 78 released last Friday, Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera has tapped the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to include in the program, officers with the rank of Senior Police Officer 1 to Senior Police Officer 4.

The free legal assistance program for policemen sued in the line of duty previously only covered those with the rank of Police Officer 1 to Police Officer 3.

Devanadera said the program’s expansion was made “in the interest of the service and pursuant to the provision of existing laws.”

She also ordered PAO chief Persida Rueda-Acosta to come up with implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the circular’s implementation.

In an interview, Acosta cited the program’s importance as it gives protection to policemen who she said, are prone to charges because of their duty to enforce the laws.

“In doing their job, some of these policemen would get counter charges in return. There are cases when they are just being harassed so we’re here to help them. Kawawa naman sila kasi ginagawa lang naman nila ang kanilang trabaho,” she lamented.

But Acosta stressed that policemen cannot expect help from PAO if the charges they are facing are not duty-related or if they are not indigent to qualify for free legal assistance.

The program started earlier this year when the DOJ ordered PAO to give free legal assistance to eight policemen involved in the Feb. 17 shootout in EDSA in Quezon City and accused in a rubout case. Read the original article here

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