NGO launches hotline to provide legal advice amid ECQ

Published April 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Minka Klaudia Tiangco

A non-government organization launched a quick response hotline to provide accessible legal advice and information on government protocols, relief operations, and social welfare concerns to the public during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).


In a statement, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS, Inc.) said it “aims to address the crucial need of the communities for correct information and communication in times of crisis and emergencies.”

“Everyone should have access to factual and relevant information and practicable advice, so they can have guided decisions during this challenging time,” IDEALS legal coordinator Atty. Ansheline Bacudio said.

Those who wish to receive legal advice from the organization can reach them at 0966-760-9397 or at their Facebook page.

The group said the government’s “abrupt” implementation of the Luzon-wide ECQ “brought panic and confusion to millions of Filipinos.”

But the government’s regular press briefings also “lacked clear and detailed plans and strategies on how to overcome this health emergency,” they said.

Through their hotline, IDEALS, Inc. has reached out to over 200 clients, most of them low- to middle-income earners in the National Capital Region (NCR), who inquire about their rights during the community quarantine and the newest government announcements and ordinances.

Data from IDEALS, Inc. showed that most of the group’s clients are affected by illegal dismissal or suspension of employees, salary and hazard pay issues, closure of the employer’s business, and reportedly slow or lack of support from government officials.

Aside from their hotline, the group also monitors and documents alleged human rights violations during the ECQ. Their legal team then assists the legal needs of the alleged victims.

“Human rights should always be upheld and respected at all times. This crisis is not an excuse to violate the rights of the citizens. The government should ensure that even in trying times, the citizens should continue to live with dignity,” Bacudio said.

Several groups, such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, have also offered free legal consultation to the public during the ECQ.

Recently, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno announced that he and some volunteer lawyers and law students partnered with the Office of the Vice President to form VALOR-19, or Volunteers and Lawyers Organized for the Rule of Law, that also aims to provide free legal advice to the public.