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Solons slam P200-M legal aid for gov't officials.

Lawmakers yesterday criticized MalacaAaAaAeA~ang for proposing a P200-milli legal aid fund for government officials facing criminal, civil, or administrative charges while hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) faced with legal battles have to fight for a P100-million budget which is not even enough to provide them with a decent defense before foreign courts.

Representatives Roy Seneres (OFW Family Partylist); Terry Ridon (Kabataan Partylist), and Lito ATiena (Buhay Partylist) said they will push for a review of the proposed Legal Assistance Fund for both government men and OFW included in the 2016 proposed budget.

"On the other hand, Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Nery Colmenares demanded a P1 billion legal defense fund for OFWs. He said the proposed budget for government men facing charges need not be slashed but must not be accessed by state executives and those holding managerial positions.

The congressmen referred to the Special Provision of the Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefits Fund of the proposed P3 trillion budget for 2016 which provides the 200 million Legal Defense Fund to finance actual expenses, including payment of premiums for posting of bail bonds and cash advance for expenses incurred by officials and employees of departments, bureaus and offices, in relation to the defense of administrative, civil or criminal cases filed against them in courts for acts committed in the performance of their actual functions.

Earlier, Sen. Francis Escudero warned that the Legal Defense Fund should only protect and defend government officials doing official, legal and ethically correct functions

Seneres appeared incredulous at the proposed legal aid budget for government workers, pointing out that in a criminal case, it is the "people" or taxpayers accusing government men facing criminal cases.

"We will therefore have a crazy situation whereby the plaintiff will be paying for the legal expenses of the defendant," said the former ambassador.


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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Sep 24, 2015
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