It was against this backdrop that the LS redefined the legal assistance program it intends to deliver to the police. The LS is slowly implementing several innovative component projects designed to complement the program. Preventive, proactive, responsive are but a few to describe the current program thrusts of the Legal Service.
Concept of Legal Assistance Program
The Philippine National Police Legal Assistance Program has its legal basis under Section 49 of Republic Act 6975 as amended by Section 56, Republic Act 8551 which provides, “that the Secretary of Justice, the Chairman of the Commission, or the Chief of the PNP may authorize lawyers of their respective agencies to provide legal assistance to any member of the PNP facing before the prosecutor’s office, the court or any competent body, a charge or charges arising from any incident which is related to the performance of his official duty.”
- Pro-active Components-These projects have the objective of preventing police personnel from being indicted due to lapses in operational judgment and failure to comply with existing operational guidelines by acting as the immediate bridge for timely legal intervention in police operations.
- The Project 24/7 ALERT – is a one stop-shop legal assistance center operated by a duty Legal Officer catering to the legal concerns of PNP operating and administrative units using state-of-the-art communication equipments. It provides real-time advice particularly in the observance of mandatory procedures in police operations. The Project is an innovative approach in police legal assistance and its significance has been shown during the 2010 National Elections.
- Project Tambuli – The project aims to provide a forum for in-depth discussion of current legal issues and other concerns affecting the Philippine National Police. These are done through focus-discussion groups,
Publication of journals and newsletters, symposia, lectures and seminars.
- The Legal Aid Clinics – This project aims to touch-base with police operating units and various police offices by imparting recent jurisprudence, relevant laws, administrative guidelines and other relevant information that has impact on the PNP’s law-enforcement functions.
- Reactive Components: This component assumes the scenario that a police officer had already been charged in the court or body of competent jurisdiction hence the necessity of an on-court representation. The projects covered in this phase are the following;
- Project Katarungan (Legal Representation)- This project necessitates the appearance of lawyers in proper proceedings to represent members of the PNP charged before such body. It is divided into two aspects, to cover all aspect of cases that could be possibly lodged against police personnel from the lowest court of body of competent jurisdiction up to the Supreme Court.
- Ordinary Cases – cases filed in ordinary courts and other administrative bodies
- Special Cases – cases being handled together with the Office of the Solicitor General
- Project Gabay– aims to provide legal assistance to police personnel even prior to the filing of a suit in a forum of competent jurisdiction. Its function is parallelism to the PNP Survivor Officer taking consideration of the mental and emotional toll that a policemen bears upon being indicted in a criminal or civil complaint.
- The LS-SOCO Tandem – the program is the fusion of forensic expertise by the PNP Scene-of-the-Crime Operatives, and legal perspective police Legal Officers. The presence of lawyers in crime-scene investigation will provide the strategic legal directions that SOCO operatives need to pin alleged perpetrators aside from the common objective of evidence gathering.