DepEd, IBP renew pact on legal aid for teachers
() - March 19, 2010 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Department of Education once again signed a Memorandum of Agreement that would enable IBP to provide legal assistance to public school teachers who will be facing legal suits in relation to their duties, especially during elections.

Newly installed Secretary of Education Dr. Mona D. Valisno led the department in signing the agreement the MOA with IBP, which was represented by Justice Santiago Kapunan, officer-in-charge, and Atty. Rodolfo Urbiztondo, deputy general council and chief of staff. The signing was done in Manila.

Also present during the signing were Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Franklin Sunga, Assistant Secretary for Special Projects Jonathan Malaya, some regional directors, and representatives of various teachers’ organizations.

Valisno said she is happy with the help being extended by IBP, especially that many teachers usually figure in legal battles during elections.

“We express our deep appreciation to IBP for such a generous act as this will reassure our teachers who are committed to protect the integrity of the elections,” Valisno said.

There have been incidents during election season when teachers, in the performance of their election duties, are wrongfully accused of wrongdoings and are unduly faced with legal suits.

DepEd is mandated by law to make available the services of public school teachers who will serve as chairmen and members of the different board of election inspectors (BEI) in the coming May 10, 2010 national and local elections.

Valisno added that the MOA will set the procedures on how such free legal assistance could be promptly availed by affected public school teachers.

 “The MOA arises from our desire to promote and protect the welfare of the public school teachers who will again play a key role in this democratic exercise,” Valisno said.

“This agreement clearly stipulates IBP’s commitment to DepEd to provide free legal assistance to public school teachers who will be charged administratively and criminally in the performance of their election duties,” Kapunan also said.

DepEd and IBP previously entered into a MOA during the May 14, 2007 national and local elections wherein the IBP extended free legal assistance to the public school teachers faced with legal suits.

“This has been a standard practice on the part of DepEd and the IBP in every election year. However, since 2010 elections will be the very first automated national and local elections, it poses a whole new set of questions,” Sunga said.

The free legal assistance shall be in the nature of court appearances and representations, preparation and submission of pleadings and other documents required to be produced and submitted by the court or tribunal where the case is pending; and such other legal services needed for the protection of the rights of the public school teachers serving as chairmen members of the BEI.

Subject to IBP’s means and merit test, free legal assistance shall be provided and made available in administrative and criminal cases filed against a qualified public school teacher serving as chairman or member of the BEI. In instances, however, where the BEI chairman or member of the BEI is the nominal complainant, free legal assistance shall not be granted.

The free legal assistance can be availed of upon the filing of the complaint before any court, administrative body, the Prosecutors Office, or before the Ombudsman, against a qualified public school teacher who served as chairman or member of the BEI, or at any stage of the proceeding in court, even on appeal, if still warranted by the circumstances.— Johanna T. Natavio/JMOLegarda, who visited Cebu City for a speaking engagement, paid a courtesy call to Governor Garcia at the Capitol yesterday afternoon.(FREEMAN NEWS)

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