The law that would extend free legal aid to uniformed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police should provide strict guidelines to guarantee that only the innocent will be benefitted.
Rizal 2nd District Rep. Fidel Nograles said he fully supports the proposal that President Rodrigo Duterte included in his legislative wish list during his State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 26.
A Harvard-trained lawyer, Nograles said the legislative proposal that will be passed by Congress should prevent abuse from all parties.
` “I agree that free legal assistance should be given to enlisted personnel who face charges arising from the discharge of their duties, as the potential for abuse does exist in legitimate operations, and law enforcement authorities can be made the subject of trumped up charges,” the neophyte solon said.
He added: ”And in cases such as these, many of our police and military personnel lack the means to hire competent counsel.”
However, he stressed the importance of putting “guidelines to ensure that the State does not protect law enforcement authorities who have indeed stepped out of bounds.”
The legislator pointed out that under the Constitution, “a basic right is the right to obtain legal counsel, but the reality is that the costs of legal services make these inaccessible to many of our countrymen, including members of the police and the military.”
There are currently four bills pushing for the said free legal assistance pending in the House committee on justice.
Nograles, who also sits on the justice committee as vice-chair, vowed that he would raise the issue once the committee decides to tackle these bills.
The solon emphasized the need for the committee to include all possible points of view once deliberation on the bills start.
“Naniniwala naman tayong makakapagpasa tayo ng panukalang-batas na mababalanse ang magkatunggaling interes (I believe that we can pass a will that will strike a balance between contradicting interests),” said the lawmaker.