Tulfo bill seeks free tuition for law students
MANILA, Philippines — A measure seeking free tuition for law students in state universities and colleges (SUCs) has been filed by Senator Raffy Tulfo.
Tulfo lodged Senate Bill No. 1610, or the Free Legal Education Act of 2023, which also aims to increase the legal profession workforce through mandatory return service.
“This measure seeks to ensure that law students will have access to legal education in the SUCs and at the same time increase the workforce of the legal profession,” Tulfo said in his explanatory note.
“In addition, the requirement to render return service in the public sector shall pave the way for a sustainable human resource deployment in the public sector that is critical for the nation’s justice system,” he added.
The neophyte senator noted that it costs about P75,000 per semester to study law in private legal institutions and P24,000 to P30,000 in state universities, excluding necessities such as living expenses.
Tulfo also cited a shortage of private practice attorneys. Approximately 40,000 members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines make up the bar, but the number of lawyers has declined.
The figure translates to one lawyer serving around 2,500 individuals, way over the ideal ratio of one lawyer for every 250 people.
To address the shortage, Tulfo’s bill will require scholars to render mandatory return service for two years in the Public Attorney’s Office or any government agency lacking lawyers.
Under the bill, the Free Legal Education Program will cover tuition at the rate green-lighted by the SUC governing board and government-mandated bar examinations, licensure fees, and other school fees.
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