Senator Loren Legarda welcomed the Quezon City Court’s ruling ordering the release of the retirement benefits of lawyers from the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) worth P178 million, saying that public attorneys deserve adequate retirement benefits after long years of hard work and dedication to public interest practice.
“The court’s decision recognizes the rights of our retired public attorneys to worthy compensation and gratuity benefits. They have spent many years providing legal services to indigent litigants, the oppressed, marginalized and underprivileged Filipinos. It is only fitting to give these public servants the benefits they rightfully deserve,” Legarda stressed.
In its Decision, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 230 nullified the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) Legal Services Opinion No. 14 issued on November 2015. The said opinion stated that PAO lawyers are not entitled to the same retirement package as that of prosecutors and judges. But PAO insisted in their case that under Section 5 of the PAO Law, a PAO lawyer shall have the same qualifications for appointment, rank, salaries, allowances and retirement privileges as those of a public prosecutor.
The court in its ruling agreed with PAO saying that they are entitled to the same retirement privileges as those of their counterparts in the National Prosecution Service under the PAO law (Republic Act 9406) and that reference shall be made to the retirement benefits of the prosecutors in the National Prosecution Service presently governed by the NAPROS Law (Republic Act No. 11071).
Legarda, on her part, supported the PAO advocacy as they fought for the release of the retirement benefits. She also lauded Secretary Benjamin Diokno of the DBM for complying with the Decision of the court as part of the pro-social justice program of the current administration.
“This is really great news for our retired public lawyers because most of them rely on their retirement package to support their needs for medication, food and regular check ups. In fact, out of 57 claimants for the P178-million gratuity package, two have already passed away while 15 were bedridden and suffering from serious health illness. It’s about time that we recognize the significant contributions of our PAO lawyers by fully implementing the retirement privileges of public attorneys pursuant to the law,” she concluded.