SC assures provincial governors ‘study, review’ of Community Legal Aid Service

Published July 19, 2022, 6:10 PM

by Rey Panaligan 

Supreme Court (SC)

The Supreme Court (SC) has assured the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) of its “comprehensive study and review” of the Community Legal Aid Service (CLAS) to provide the public, particularly the marginalized sector, access to justice and proper legal service.

Led by its President Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., a retired SC justice, the LPP appealed to the SC to revive the CLAS.

In 2019, the SC suspended the implementation of CLAS due to reported conflict with the Revised Law Student Practice Rule or Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court.

Velasco said there was no conflict between the CLAS and Rule 138-A in terms of implementation and monitoring.

He said the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) will supervise the CLAS while the Revised Law Student Practice Rule would be under the law schools’ Clinical Legal Education Programs (CLEPs).

He added that CLAS aims to “require new lawyers to provide free legal assistance of at least 120 hours to poorer sectors and give meaning to the constitutional mandate to guarantee access to legal assistance to individuals and groups with limited means.”

In its appeal, the LPP pointed out the shortage of volunteer legal aid lawyers from the IBP to help the poor and underprivileged. It expressed hope that the country’s new lawyers would participate in the program.

In a statement, SC Spokesperson Brian Keith F. Hosaka said:

“SC Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo and the members of the Supreme Court are very much aware about the issue of providing the public, especially the marginalized sector, access to justice and proper legal service. This is why in the 5-Year Strategic Plan recently approved by the Court for the Judiciary, access to justice and legal service is a key outcome and objective.

“A thorough and comprehensive study and review of the legal aid program in the country will definitely and soon be undertaken and spearheaded by the Supreme Court. We share the concern of the League of Provinces of the Philippines to improve the people’s access to Justice, and we are indeed very much encouraged that we have found an ally and partner in this endeavor.”