The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading the bill providing for free legal assistance to any officer or enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippine and the Philippine National Police.
House deputy minority leader and party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III, one of the bill’s authors, said House Bill 6413 offers help to military and law enforcers facing any charges arising from an event related to their official duty.
“Those officers and modest enlisted personnel of the AFP and PNP cannot afford to engage the services of a lawyer due to the prohibitive cost of legal services to defend themselves,” Bello said.
Under the measure, the AFP Chief of Staff, PNP Chief or the Chairperson of the National Police Commission shall be mandated to authorize any lawyer with the assistance of Public Attorney’s Office to provide free legal assistance to any AFP and AFP personnel within 24 hours after charges have been filed.
The bill provides that the funds needed to implement the Act shall come from the appropriation of the Department of Justice, AFP, Napolcom and PNP in the year following its enactment into law.
“They shall also issue the necessary rules and regulations to implement the Act,” the bill states.
Bello said he is hopeful that the next 17th Congress will be able to reintroduce the measure and make effort to have it signed into law so that the police and soldiers would be provided the necessary legal assistance they need.