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Cops in need of legal aid can now call a hotline

/ 06:09 PM June 15, 2015

MANILA, Philippines — Policemen seeking legal help when carrying out operations now have a number to call.

Through the “Panyerong Pulis” hotline, lawmen can ask legal questions related to their work in the Philippine National Police.

The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a police official who is also a lawyer on call to answer their queries.

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“This is one way of assuring our PNP personnel that the organization is doing something for them,” said Chief Supt. Ulysses Abellera, director of the PNP Legal Service.

Around 30 policemen-lawyers from different PNP units are assigned to serve as Panyerong Pulis on a rotation basis every month.

The legal aid is aimed at guiding policemen on the ground who may have legal questions pertaining to police operations.

Abellera explained that policemen are free to ask questions on criminal law, administrative matters and other concerns related to their work.

For example, a team of policemen serving a warrant might encounter a peculiar situation and the policemen may have questions on whether their course of action is legal or not.

“They can call or text us, or through email about their question so they will be properly guided,” Abellera said.

Policemen may contact 09178562801, 09199906385, 09253015426, or call 4701297. Queries may be also emailed to panyerong-pulis@pnplegal.net , or through Twitter.

Abellera pointed out that the legal assistance would be their proactive way of helping policemen especially those assigned to operating units on the ground.

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The PNP also aims to ensure that cases against criminals are airtight from the start.

“Our policemen are vulnerable to harassment cases.  If they are not confident that the law is on their side, their implementation of operations is half-hearted. But if they have confirmation that the law is on their side, they become more confident,” the police official said.

A Panyerong Pulis is required to review criminal laws and applicable regulations of the PNP and the Napolcom before going on duty.

A policeman with a legal question can be assured of a quick reply within an hour at most.

For example, a police inspector posed this query through email: Can  the children of a deceased retired soldier surrender their father’s grenade without being charged criminally?

The reply of the lawyer on duty was that the grenade may be surrendered to authorities as it is not owned by the children, and that it should be recorded in the police blotter with a plus receipt from the children.

Abellera encouraged policemen not to be shy and ask legal questions.

“This is part of our advocacy so that no policeman will be facing service-related cases. We don’t want policemen getting dismissed from the service because of that,” the legal service chief added.

According to Abellera, the PNP is in dire need of policemen-lawyers as the PNP is barely able to meet the minimum requirement of one legal officer per province.

Abellera said the PNP would like to hire 40 to 50 policemen lawyers, as those already in the service have been fulfilling other duties.

Policemen-lawyers in the PNP are not allowed to go into private practice, unless they are given permission to do so by the PNP chief,

Senior Insp. Ivan Abesa, who is assigned to the Directorate for Intelligence, goes on duty for the Panyerong Pulis twice a month.

He usually gets queries related to arrests and search warrants and questions on administrative cases.

“Sometimes they have the basic knowledge, but there are grey areas that might need the intervention of lawyers,” Abesa said.

He has been a policeman for 11 years and a lawyer for the past four years.

Despite the lure of private practice, he is confident that he will retire as a police official and lawyer.

“The smell of the uniform is already in my system. With the Panyerong Pulis, I am glad that I get to fulfill my job as a PNP lawyer,” he added.

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TAGS: legal advice, Legal aid, legal assistance, News, Panyerong Pulis, Philippine National Police, PNP Legal Service, policeman, Policemen, Ulysses Abellera
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