THE Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the release of P7.5 million to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines representing the first quarter allocation of the P30-million Expanded Legal Aid Program Subsidy of 2013.
In a full court resolution, signed by clerk of court Enriqueta Vidal, the tribunal resolved upon the recommendation of its Fiscal Management and Budget Office (FMBO), to release the amount “subject to the usual liquidation requirements in accordance with accounting and auditing rules and regulations.”
Based on its Rule on Mandatory Legal Aid Service, the IBP enhances the duty of lawyers to society as agents of social change and to the courts as officers by helping improve access to justice of less privileged members of society and expedite the resolution of cases involving them.
Mandatory free legal service by members of the bar and their active support had been aiding for efficient and effective administration of justice especially in cases involving indigent and pauper litigants.
Section 3 (Scope) of the its Rule “governs the mandatory requirement for practicing lawyers to render free legal aid services in all cases [whether, civil, criminal or administrative] involving indigent and pauper litigants where the assistance of a lawyer is needed.
“It shall also govern the duty of other members of the legal profession to support the legal aid program of the [IBP].”
The Rule was revised in view of a January 27, 2009 memorandum of then Justice and former Chief Justice Renato Corona on suggested revisions to the proposed rule for practicing lawyers.
The court’s latest resolution, however, reminded the IBP “to maximize utilization of its subsidy; otherwise, only the amount liquidated shall be released to them as quarterly subsidy beginning the next quarter.”
It also directed the IBP to study the possibility of reallocating the annual P30-million subsidy to its two programs, namely: the Legal Aid and the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), to address the deficit in the CBD Subsidy Fund, and to submit its report within 30 days from notice.