Lapid teases 3 ex-inmates in Senate: Free legal aid law will save you
MANILA, Philippines — It may no longer be a concern for the three former inmates now serving in the Senate should another charge be leveled against them, thanks to a law that would provide them with legal assistance.
Though said in jest, Senator Lito Lapid volunteered to help his friends— Senators Robin Padilla, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada— through Republic Act No. 999 or the Free Legal Assistance Act of 2010, also known as Lapid Law.
Padilla, Revilla and Estrada spent time in jail for various offenses.
On Tuesday, Lapid made a manifestation on the floor as he thanked the former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for signing the law in 2010 and other lawmakers who supported the passage of the measure in Congress.
It was only last September 13 when the implementing rules and regulations of the law were released, paving the way for its full implementation.
After thanking the people who supported the law, Lapid mentioned his friends and colleagues from the showbiz industry.
“Pag tinatawag ba kayo kakong ex-convict, pero hindi naman po sila ex convict, nakulong kayong tatlo, hindi ba kayo nasasaktan? Sabi nila hindi, sanay na kami,” he said.
( When they call you ex-convicts—though they are not ex-convicts, the three were jailed—don’t you get hurt? But, according to them, they’re used to it.)
Unlike Estrada and Revilla, however, Padilla was convicted in 1994 for illegally possessing firearms and ammunition. Nevertheless, he was granted an absolute pardon by former President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Kaya sabi ko kung magkakakaso kayo ulit, nandito po ang magliligtas sa inyo at susuporta—Ang Lapid law, free legal assistance para sa inyo,” Lapid said, which drew laughter from the session hall.
(That’s why I said in case you face charges again, you have a savior and support in the Lapid law; this is free legal assistance for you.)
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who was presiding over the session, responded to the manifestation gamely.
“Sana po wag na po silang bumalik sa kulungan (I hope they won’t return to jail),” Zubiri said.
“Naniniwala naman po akong walang kasalanan,” Lapid said.
Under the law, lawyers and professional firms would be encouraged to render free legal services to the poor to help decongest the workload at the Public Attorney’s Office in exchange for tax incentives.
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