SENATOR Manuel “Lito” Lapid, on Wednesday, September 14, said poor Filipinos can now finally avail of free legal assistance 12 years after his Republic Act No. 9999, or the Free Legal Assistance Act of 2010, more commonly known as “Lapid Law”, was signed into law.
“Sa wakas, nakamit na natin ang tagumpay sa pagpapatupad ng ating batas. Halos labing dalawang taon po mula nang mapirmahan ang Lapid Law bilang batas, ang Implementing Rules and Regulations o ang IRR nito ay napirmahan na noong Setyembre 8,” Lapid said.
“Isa itong landmark victory para sa ating mga kababayan na lubos na nangangailangan ng libreng serbisyong legal. Abot-kamay na nila ang free legal services sakaling sila ay mangailangan nito,” Lapid added.
The senator from Pampanga also expressed his gratitude to BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) Commissioner Lilia Guillermo and Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno for prioritizing the promulgation of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for RA No. 9999.
“Taos-puso akong nagpapasalamat kina Commissioner Lilia Guillermo at Secretary Benjamin Diokno sa pagtugon na sa wakas ay magkaroon na ng IRR ang batas na ito,” Lapid expressed.
Lapid’s landmark bill, the Free Legal Assistance Act of 2010, seeks to encourage lawyers and professional firms to render actual free legal services to the poor to help decongest the workload in the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), and ensures that every person who cannot afford the services of a counsel is provided with a competent and independent counsel preferably of his own choice.
RA No. 9999, granting lawyers tax deductions for giving legal services to poor clients, was signed into law during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2010 but remained unimplemented 12 years after the bill was signed into law due to the lack of IRR.
It can be recalled that earlier, Lapid, in a letter addressed to Commissioner Lilia Guillermo dated July 11, requested the prioritization of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for RA No. 9999 from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).