Eddie Villanueva

CIBAC files bill providing free legal aid to state auditors

August 25, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 166 views

CITIZENS Battle Against Corruption Rep. Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” Villanueva has filed House Bill (HB) No. 8952 which aims to provide free legal assistance to government auditors who are facing complaints before any court or quasi-judicial bodies due to acts in performance of their official duties.

Under HB 8952 or the Auditors Free Legal Assistance Act, any auditor or auditing personnel of the Commission on Audit (COA) facing any criminal, civil or administrative case involving service-related incident before a prosecutor’s office, court, administrative body, or any competent body or tribunal, shall be entitled to free legal assistance from the government. Further, retired state auditors shall also be entitled to the assistance even when the case was filed after retirement.

The free legal assistance includes legal representation in all stages of the case, legal advice or consultations, preparation of pleadings, motions, memoranda, and all other legal forms and documents, notarization of documents and all other legal services as directed by the Commissioner-in-charge. The funds necessary for the implementation of the bill shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

During the pork barrel scam in 2013, twelve (12) COA auditors faced raps when they raised red flags on the misuse of Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF). Ombudsman eventually junked the case after two (2) years.

“Harassment, threat or legal challenges from some politicians and high government officials are part of the risks that intimidate and hinder our state auditors to do their job properly and effectively. Given the cost of legal actions, state auditors are placed at disadvantaged position when they shoulder expenses in facing legal cases. Thus, to guarantee them all necessary legal services they will need in case they face administrative or court charges in the performance of their duties is a concrete gesture of our support to them and a testament to our commitment to fight corruption,” Villanueva said.

“Our state auditors are our first line of defense against corruption in the government. The measure aims to inspire and embolden them to fight corruption head-on. We hope for the immediate passage of HB 8952,” Villanueva added.