IBP to expand legal assistance to the poor with financial and logistical support from LGUs – Manila Bulletin

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Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) can now extend its legal assistance to the poor and needy with financial and logistical support from local government units (LGUs).

IBP President Burt M. Estrada said IBP and its chapters are no longer covered by Circular 98-002 issued by the Audit Commission (COA) in 1998 which prohibits LGUs from hire private lawyers to handle their legal issues and those of their poor. and destitute constituents.

Estrada said COA President Michael G. Aguinaldo has confirmed that IBP services are not covered by the COA circular 98-002 ban.

The COA circular states that “public funds shall not be used to pay for the services of a private legal advisor or law firm to represent government agencies and bodies, including owned or controlled companies. by government and local government units in court or to render legal services to them. “

It also states: “In the event that such legal services cannot be avoided or are justified under extraordinary or exceptional circumstances for government agencies and bodies, including companies owned or controlled by the government, compliance and written consent of the Solicitor General or Crown corporation Counsel, as the case may be, and written approval of the Audit Commission must first be obtained before hiring or employing private counsel or a law firm.

Estrada, on behalf of the IBP Board of Governors, asked Aguinaldo for clarification on the COA circular in a letter dated July 15, 2021.

In his response to Estrada dated July 28, 2021, Aguinaldo said: “This office agrees with the IBP Board of Governors that any agreement between the LGU and the IBP section to provide free legal services to the indigent and to the poor of this LGU is not subject to ACO Circular No. 98-002.

But Aguinaldo told Estrada: “The terms and conditions of the proposed agreements should clearly specify the respective roles and responsibilities of the IBP and LGU chapters, including the type and purpose of the assistance.

Aguinaldo also declared: “… any disbursement of public funds from LGUs arising from such agreements is subject to a subsequent audit by the Commission”.

The IBP is the official organization of Filipino lawyers established by the Supreme Court (SC) in 1970.

Estrada said that “with the above clarification from the COA, LGUs can now formally engage IBP chapters through a Memorandum of Understanding and provide support, financial or otherwise, to the program. chapter legal aid ”.

“This will surely increase the capacity of IBP branches to provide free legal aid to poor and / or indigent citizens of the municipality, city or province,” he said.


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