Bilibid inmates to have access to free legal aid

Posted on October 04, 2013

INMATES SERVING jail time at the state penitentiary will have easier access to legal services as the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) will put up an office by Monday inside the prison facility.

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and PAO signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) yesterday where the latter’s lawyers would offer free legal services to inmates at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP).

The agreement would cover convicted inmates serving more than three years of jail time at the state penitentiary. PAO lawyers’ services would include coordination with other government agencies of the inmate’s concerns, and preparing and filing pleadings or other legal documents.

The service would likewise include determination of inmates who were serving jail time beyond their sentences, legal counseling and documentation as well as administration of oaths and notarial services.

In her message, Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima was quoted as saying that the agreement was recognition of legal aid as a right.

“The BuCor and the PAO are doing the government and our people a great service in that you have developed what is hoped to be sustainable mechanisms for providing accessible and meaningful legal aid to persons in need of special assistance, such as the inmates of the BuCor and their families,” Ms. de Lima was quoted as saying.

For his part, BuCor Acting Director Franklin B. Bucayu said the MoA would allow a “one-stop” service for the inmates.

Chief Public Attorney Persida V. Rueda-Acosta said the MoA would let PAO become more accessible to inmates. “It’s making PAO more accessible to the inmates unlike before where relatives would still have to go to PAO for legal aid,” Ms. Rueda-Acosta said. -- MFEF