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 Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
House Bill 6413 authored by Rep. Felix William B. Fuentebella (4th District, Camarines Sur) aims to help military and law enforcers facing any charge 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,” said Fuentebella.
The bill specifically requires the AFP Chief of Staff, PNP Chief or the Chairperson of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to authorize any lawyer with the assistance of Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to provide free legal assistance to any AFP and AFP personnel within 24 hours after charges have been filed.
The funds needed to implement the Act shall come from the appropriation of the Department of Justice (DOJ), AFP, Napolcom and PNP in the year following its enactment into law.
Further, they shall also issue the necessary rules and regulations to implement the Act.
Other authors of the bill include Reps. Niel C. Tupas Jr. (5th District, Iloilo), Jose Christopher Y. Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), George P. Arnaiz (2nd District, Negros Oriental), Silvestre H. Bello III (Party list, 1BAP), Lino S. Cayetano (2nd District, Taguig City).
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