Finally, a law from Senator Lito Lapid: Legal assistance
- Aurea Calica () - January 30, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Congress has ratified the bill granting legal assistance to the poor and giving lawyers tax credits for legal services rendered to poor clients.

Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid, main author of Senate Bill 2361 or the Legal Assistance to the Poor Act of 2010, said once signed into law by President Arroyo, the measure would encourage more lawyers and law firms to render pro bono services to poor clients who could not afford legal services by giving them tax credits in exchange for free assistance.

The bill grants an allowable tax deduction of up to 10 percent of the gross income of lawyers or law firms accredited by the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice to render service to the poor in exchange for tax deductions.

SB 2361, ratified by the Senate last Wednesday, was co-authored by Sen. Francis Escudero.

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

The senators said the new law would also preclude the wrongful conviction of suspects just because they were poor and could not afford the services of lawyers.

Under the bill, indigent litigants will have the opportunity to acquire the services of distinguished law firms and legal practitioners of the country for free.

The PAO, the DOJ or the accredited legal aid clinic shall issue a certification that services were rendered by the lawyer or professional partnership under this act. The certification shall include the cost of the actual services given.

The lawyer or professional partnership shall present the certificate/s to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) which shall deduct from the annual taxable income of the lawyer or professional partnership, the total cost of the actual services rendered as appearing in the certificate/s or 10 percent of the annual gross income derived from the actual practice of the profession, whichever is lower.

The actual free legal services in the proposed law shall be exclusive of the 60 hours mandatory legal aid service required under BAR Matter No. 2010 issued by the Supreme Court.

BUREAU OF INTERNAL REVENUE FRANCIS ESCUDERO LAPID LEGAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE MATTER NO POOR POOR ACT PRESIDENT ARROYO PUBLIC ATTORNEY SERVICES
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