johnny pimentel

Legal assistance fund for cops, soldiers facing charges urged

July 31, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 295 views

AN existing fund in the national budget can help defray the legal expenses of police officers and soldiers who may end up facing charges in court for lawful actions in the performance of their duties, Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel said.

“Congress has been appropriating P200 million every year for the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), which is a special provision under the lump sum Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) in the budget,” Pimentel, chairperson of the House strategic intelligence committee, said.

“At present, the LDF is used for the actual expenses of officials and employees of departments, bureaus and offices in relation to the defense of administrative, civil or criminal cases filed against them in court for acts committed in carrying out their functions,” Pimentel said.

The covered expenses include premium payments for the posting of bail bonds, according to Pimentel.

“Claims for legal expenses may be charged against the LDF. However, the expenses must be refunded to the government once the claimant is eventually found guilty by final judgment in relation to the offense charged,” Pimentel pointed out.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, had asked Congress to pass a law providing free legal aid to the men and women of the Armed Forces and the National Police to help defend them from charges related to the execution of their tasks.

“To address the President’s request, Congress can tweak the LDF provision in the budget so that the fund can expressly cover meritorious cases of police officers and soldiers facing legal proceedings on account of valid and justifiable acts on the job,” Pimentel said.

“The House appropriations committee can easily do this in consultation with the heads of the Department of Budget and Management, Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government,” Pimentel said.

“The LDF was created upon the request of several agencies, including the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP),” Pimentel said.

“In the past, many BSP officials got swamped with lawsuits after they ordered the closure of private banks that were found engaging in unsafe or unsound banking practices,” Pimentel said.