Bill on free legal assistance for military, other uniformed personnel refiled in House | Inquirer News

Bill on free legal assistance for military, other uniformed personnel refiled in House

/ 01:23 AM July 09, 2022

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House of Representatives (INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — A bill seeking to provide free legal assistance to police and military officers and other uniformed personnel facing cases related to their service has been refiled by several members of the House of Representatives.

Photos sent by Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez’ office to reporters on Friday showed that House Bill No. 8, authored by the lawmaker and other House members, was filed last June 30.

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Among the other lawmakers who authored the bill were Tingog party-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre, and Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Alexander Marcos — son of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

If enacted, House Bill No. 8 or the Free Legal Assistance for Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP) bill will help uniformed personnel who may be facing unwarranted cases due to harassment.

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“By providing free legal assistance under this measure, our MUPs who sacrifice their life and limb for the preservation of our national security, public order, and public safety will be able to perform their sworn duties without fear of unwarranted cases filed against them for the purpose of harassment or reprisal,” the bill’s explanatory note said.

 Aside from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), personnel from the following uniformed services are covered by the legislation:

  • Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP)
  • Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)
  • Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)

 “Hence, this bill will provide free legal assistance to all offices or uniformed personnel of the AFP, PNP, BJMP, BFP, and PCG in all stages of criminal, civil, or administrative proceedings arising from service-related incidents, including retired MUPs who had cases or charges involving service-related incidents while still in active duty,” the bill said.

 “In view of the foregoing, the passage of the bill is earnestly sought,” it added.

 Among the legal services that uniformed personnel may avail of include:

  • Legal representation in all stages of civil, criminal, or administrative cases involving service-related incidents
  • Legal advice or consultations in relation to service-related cases or incidents.
  • Preparation of pleadings, motions, memoranda, and all other legal forms and documents in relation to service-related cases
  • Notarization of documents in relation to service-related cases
  • All other legal services and tasks as directed by the chief of staff of the AFP, the chief of the BFP, the chief of the BJMP, the commandant of the PCG, or the chief of the PNP

 The free legal aid for the MUPs was a request made by former president Rodrigo Duterte in his last State of the Nation Address in 2021, as many officers are facing cases that would either cripple their finances or subject them to very tedious procedures.(With reports from Andy Hoo, trainee)

READ: Duterte to Congress: Pass law giving free legal aid to soldiers, cops, uniformed personnel

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