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NOGRALES: GIVE SOLDIERS, COPS FREE LEGAL AID

A law that would provide free legal aid to enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police should prevent abuse from all parties, a neophyte lawmaker said as President Rodrigo Duterte urged Congress to pass a bill providing for such legal aid during his State of the Nation Address on Monday.

According to Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles, “I agree that free legal assistance should be given to enlisted personnel who face charges arising from the discharge of their duties, as the potential for abuse does exist in legitimate operations, and law enforcement authorities can be made the subject of trumped up charges.”

“The potential for abuse does exist in legitimate operations, and law enforcement authorities can be made the subject of trumped up charges.”

“And in cases such as these, many of our police and military personnel lack the means to hire competent counsel.”

“That being said, there should be guidelines to ensure that the State does not protect law enforcement authorities who have indeed stepped out of bounds,” stressed the solon.

The legislator pointed out that under the Constitution, “a basic right is the right to obtain legal counsel, but the reality is that the costs of legal services make these inaccessible to many of our countrymen, including members of the police and the military.”

There are currently four bills pushing for the said free legal assistance pending in the House committee on justice.

The Harvard-trained lawyer, who also sits on the justice committee as vice-chair, vowed that he would raise the issue once the committee decides to tackle these bills.

“And in cases such as these, many of our police and military personnel lack the means to hire competent counsel.”

“Mayroon naman tayong technical working group para maresolba ang ganitong mga isyu, para masiguro natin na walang sektor na madedehado sa pagbigay natin ng benepisyo sa isa pang sektor,” said Nograles.

The solon emphasized the need for the committee to include all possible points of view once deliberation on the bills start.

“Naniniwala naman tayong makakapagpasa tayo ng panukalang-batas na mababalanse ang magkatunggaling interes,” said the lawmaker.

“Kaya ngayon pa lang, hinihimok na natin ang mga stakeholder na ihanda na ang kanilang mga posisyon sa isyung ito nang mapag-usapan sa lalong madaling panahon.”

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