By Jeffrey Damicog
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) lawyers and staff nationwide will be working at home and will remain on call to provide legal assistance to the public, PAO Chief Persida Acosta announced on Thursday (March 19).
“Tuloy-tuloy po ang serbisyo (Our services will continue),” Acosta said in her video announcement posted on Facebook. “Ang importante lang ngayon, social distancing ay ma-implement natin (what’s important is we implement social distancing).”
Since PAO is a frontline office that the public flocks to everyday, Acosta explained that the agency has to implement measures to keep its lawyers and staff, as well as the public, safe from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Minabuti po naming sundin ang kautusan ng ating mahal na Pangulo work from home (We have decided to heed the call of President Duterte to work from home),” said Acosta, who noted that the PAO has around 2,000 lawyers and staff nationwide.
With this, Acosta assured the public in need of legal assistance that “on call lahat ng PAO lawyers at ang lahat ng staff (all PAO lawyers and staff are on call).”
“Makokontak ang mga PAO lawyers upang matulungan ang magpipiyansa, ang magpa-file ng mga urgent motions, at kung meron pong makukulong o mahuhuli dahil may mga paglabag sa kautusang legal ng ating bansa (The PAO lawyers can be contacted for those who need to post bail, those who need to file urgent motions, or those who have been arrested or jailed for violating the country’s lawful orders),” Acosta said.
However, Acosta has temporarily suspended jail visitations being made by PAO lawyers.
“Sinususpindi muna natin unless emergency o kailangan puntahan sila (It is suspended unless it is an emergency or there is a need to visit the person deprived of liberty),” she explained.
Acosta told the public that they contact her, the district heads, and regional heads for legal assistance.
She said the numbers have been posted in all of the around 400 PAO offices nationwide.
“Wala nang manloloko kasi panahon ng pagtutulong-tulong po ngayon, wala na pong lokohan (Don’t make prank calls because this is a time for us to help each other),” the PAO chief appealed to the public.
On the other hand, Acosta assured PAO lawyers and staff that their allowances and salary will continue to be released.
“Nanawagan po ako doon sa iba na nagagalit sa pamahalan, huwag po kayo magalit (I also appeal to those who angry at the government not to be angry),” Acosta also said.
“Nililigtas po tayo ng pamahalan laban sa peligro ng mga virus na ito (The government is trying to help us against the dangers of this virus),” she added.
Acosta asked government detractors to instead help during this time of crisis.