New IBP president pushes for bill to increase legal aid for poor
The new national president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has called the attention of the House of Representatives on a pending bill mandating the creation of a legal insurance for the poor.
“This bill is a breath of fresh air, and we look forward to its enactment. As it now obtains, our legal aid program for the indigents is grossly inadequate,” Rosario T. Setias-Reyes, the first female IBP president, said in a speech before the Supreme Court en banc after the oath-taking of the organization’s new set of officers.
The bill provides for the setting up of a social fund which will be taken from the 10 percent of the net incomes of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and Duty Free Philippines.
The social fund will cover the costs of litigation in courts and quasi-judicial bodies incurred by poor litigants, including traveling expenses, accommodation, bonds for temporary liberty and civil liability, among others.
“The IBP only provides free legal services such as representation in judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, drafting of affidavits and pleadings, and legal advice or counseling. It is observed that most poor clientele abandoned their cases for lack of money to defray their traveling expenses, among others,” she said.
“For sure, this bill, if enacted, will dress up the social justice entity in our Constitution with legal apparel and enable the IBP, to quote its third mandate, ‘to discharge its public responsibility more effectively.'”
Reyes, former IBP vice chair and governor for greater Manila area, replaces Vicente Joyas who has completed his two-year term.
She also assured that IBP would further improve legal ethics and Bar discipline, which she said was jump-started by former president Roan Libarios when he underscored the “preventive approach” in combating problems brought by wayward lawyers.
“The disposal of disciplinary Bar cases and the declogging of our dockets are not only an issue of administration but one of process. In due time, I will submit to the Supreme Court, for its consideration, our amendments to the Commission on Integrity and Bar Discipline Rules that will mandate the dismissal of clear, unmeritorious and harassment complaints against lawyers at the level of preliminary investigation,” she said.
She added that she would see to it that the number of IBP commissioners hearing cases against lawyers was “maintained and maybe increased.”
At the same time, to further improve and update the knowledge of lawyers on development in the legal profession, Reyes also vowed to continue the practice started by Libarios of inviting magistrates of the SC and the Court of Appeals as resource persons in their Mandatory Continuing Legal Education or MCLE seminars.
“Plans and program are afoot to freshen up and tool up the IBP to serve the requirements of our lawyers in the exercise of the legal profession as well as interest of the public,” she said.
She added that she would also push for the introduction of a social insurance system for their group, adding that the P20,000 given to the family of a deceased lawyer was too small an amount.
A foundation that will offer scholarship to children of lawyers are also in her plans, as well as a mutual aid insurance system.
Aside from Reyes, the other new IBP officials are Abdiel Dan Ilijah Fajardo, executive vice president and vice chair of BOG (Western Visayas), and Franklin Calpito, chair of the group’s chapter in northern Luzon.
The other IBP officials are Jose de la Rama Jr. for Central Luzon, Bienvenido Somera Jr. for southern Luzon, Romeo Igot for greater Manila area, Emerson Aquende for Bicol region, Mae Elaine Bathan for Eastern Visayas, Caesar Europa for eastern Mindanao and Domingo Redelosa IV for Western Mindanao.
The new set of IBP officials will serve until 2017.
The IBP is the national and mandatory organization of lawyers in the country established by virtue of Republic Act No. 6397.
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