The House Committee on National Defense and Security will have its hands full as it takes swift action on the legislative priorities President Rodrigo Duterte outlined in his recent State of the Nation Address.
Legislative measures providing for free legal assistance to personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the amendments tot he retirement benefits and pension of uniformed personnel have been set for deliberation.
Davao Oriental 2nd District Rep. Joel Mayo Z. Almario authored House Bill 3141 to grant free legal assistance to AFP and PNP members facing charges arising from the performance of their official duty.
“Members of our military and police forces are sacrificing their livers for the preservation of peace and order in our country. Their duties require them to be in dangerous places and perform, tasks that put their lives on the line to protect our people, freedom and institutions,” said Almario as he strongly supported Duterte’s call to further protect the welfare of uniformed personnel.
“By providing free legal assistance to defend their innocence and protect their rights, our men in uniform will be able to perform their duties more effectively without fear of unwarranted cases being filed against them,” he explained.
A member of the Commission on Appointments, Almario is confident Duterte will certify the bill urgent in order to see its enactment before the end of the 18th Congress.
Almario lamented that many law enforcers face harassment suits as they carry out their jobs in battling criminality in the country.
The same is true to AFP members, he said.
He explained that while PNP and AFP members already receive better pay under the Duterte administration, it is doubtful they could afford lawyers to defend them in court.
To address the problem, government should qualify them for free legal assistance, Almario stressed.