SB 2361: Legal Assistance to the Poor Act of 2010

ON SENATE BILL (SB) 2361 - The Senate has passed Sen. Manuel "Lito" Lapid's proposal that grants legal assistance to the poor and gives lawyers tax credits for legal services rendered to poor clients.

SB 2361, or the Legal Assistance to the Poor Act of 2010, will encourage more lawyers and law firms to render pro bono services to poor clients who cannot afford lawyers by giving them tax credits for these free legal services.

The law grants an allowable tax deduction of up to ten percent of the gross income of lawyers or law firms accredited by the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to render service to the poor in exchange for the tax deductions.

SB 2361 was passed by the Senate last Wednesday, and the bill was co-authored by Sen. Lapid and Sen. Francis Escudero.

Lapid thanked his colleagues for recognizing the need to encourage more private lawyers to do pro bono work so they can help unburden the Public Attorney's Office.

Lapid also said the law would preclude the wrongful conviction of suspects just because they are poor and cannot afford the legal services of lawyers.

"Nung gobernador pa ako, may nakilala akong nakakulong sa Pampanga Provincial Jail na limang taon ng nakakulong na ang tanging kasalanan lamang n'ya'y nambato ng ilaw sa poste. Wala siyang pambayad ng abugado kaya naisipan kong magpanukala ng ganitong batas dahil naramdaman ko na dapat mayroon akong magawa upang hindi na mangyari ang ganoon," Lapid said.

Lapid's legislative work in the Senate also includes the passage of numerous bills enacted into law which he either, principally authored or co-authored.

These laws include the Cheaper Medicines Law which cut the prices of the most useful medicines. Lapid worked as co-author of the consolidated bill that has become the Cheaper Medicines Law. He is also the principal author of the law which made Arnis a national martial art sport.

Lapid is also ranked No. 4 among all senators in the number of bills filed before the Senate with a total of 398 bills and resolutions.
Source: Senate of the Philippines

Meantime, the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) through its Chief, Atty. Persida Acosta, announced Monday that it will release soon the PAO Guidelines on free legal assistance in relation to SB 2361 or the Legal Assistance to Poor Act of 2010.

We will post the PAO Guidelines here once published. And by the way, rates Senator Lito Lapid 5 stars for this law. Thank you Mr. Senator. Mabuhay po kayo!