IBP vows legal aid to ‘harassed’ cops

THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) yesterday vowed to help provide legal assistance to policemen facing harassment cases in the performance of their duties.

“The 87 well-organized IBP chapters will be there to help provide competent and accessible legal services to policemen who are facing counter-suits in the performance of their duties,” said IB national president, lawyer Domingo Egon Q. Cayosa as he and Philippine National Police chief General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa signed a memorandum of understanding reinforcing the partnership between the IBP and the PNP.

In their memorandum, the PNP and the IBP agreed to “open and maintain direct lines of communication between their national and local leaders for faster communication and coordination to preempt, avoid or reduce violence against their members and to expedite and monitor the investigation, arrest, prosecution, punishment and reformation of the malefactors.”

The agreement was made following talks between the IBP and the PNP Legal Service headed by Brigadier Gen. Matthew P. Baccay. Both Gen. Gamboa and Baccay are lawyers too.

Under the agreement, the IBP will help improve the legal knowledge and skills of police officers and inculcate in them adherence to the rule of law and respect for the rights of citizens through lectures, seminars, workshops and other educational or training programs or projects.

Most importantly, the IBP will “provide legal assistance, through its legal aid program, to qualified police officers who are unjustly harassed for doing their job and who do not have access to a competent lawyer.”

They include policemen who have been sued in court by arrested moneyed drug personalities and other influential persons.

On the other hand, the PNP will help enhance the knowledge and skills of lawyers in security, personal defense, gun use and discipline and allow the free use of its facilities for such trainings subject to existing PNP rules and policies.

The PNP will also assist and facilitate the processing of the application for License to Own and Possess Firearm, Firearms Registration and Permit-to-Carry Firearms Outside Residence to qualified IBP members including an assurance that members of the Bar will be exempted from submitting Threat Assessment Certificate each time they file a gun permit application.

The PNP will also expedite the investigation of and give preferential attention to incidents and cases of violence against lawyers, prosecutors and magistrates to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable and that justice is swiftly done.

The PNP recognized members of the Philippine Bar to be in “imminent danger due to the nature of their profession.”

The IBP particularly noted an escalation of incidents where lawyers were targeted and killed. More than 40 lawyers have been killed from mid-2016 to date, the IBP said.