LINGAYEN—Policemen who are charged in court for participating in the campaign vs. illegal drugs like buy-bust operations, and in the implementation of search warrants no longer need to worry about having no legal counsel to defend them.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP-Pangasinan chapter) recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine National Police (PNP-Pangasinan) and National Police Commission (Napolcom-Region 1) for the appointment of the chapter’s members as legal counsels for the accused policemen.
Lawyer Baby Ruth Torre, IBP-Pangasinan chapter president, told The PUNCH that they are the first chapter in the country to ink a pact with the two government agencies.
The MOA was hailed by Solicitor General Jose Calida and Chief PNP Ronald dela Rosa and P/Senior Supt. Ronald Oliver Lee, acting police director of Pangasinan.
She said an earlier MOA with similar intention had been signed in February yet with then Pangasinan acting police director, Senior Supt. Edgar Alan Okubo, and the Napolcom regional director.
She said the IBP-Pangasinan has also been conducting trainings and seminars to policemen about laws on illegal drugs.
The MOA acknowledged “that there is an increasing number of administrative cases being filed against the police officers/personnel in the province of Pangasinan in connection with their lawful performance of their official functions, and most cases are counter-charges filed by the suspect/s that they arrested, specifically in drug buy-bust operations and service of search warrants against illegal drugs.”
The IBP-Pangasinan observed that some policemen are not properly represented by a counsel during the hearings of their cases because of monetary constraints.
Torre, however clarified that an accused policeman must qualify for the program through an evaluation applying the Means and Merit Tests. A Means Test aims to determine whether the applicant has no visible means of support or his income is insufficient to engage private counsel.
On the other hand, a Merit Test seeks to ascertain whether or not the applicant’s cause of action or his defense is valid and chances of establishing the same appear reasonable.
The MOA was jointly signed by Calida, Dela Rosa, Torre, Lee and Napolcom Region 1 Director Evangeline Almirante. It was witnessed by lawyers Raul Lambino, Napolcom Assistant Regional Director Edwin Mapili, Jonas Cabochan of the National Center for Legal Aid of IBP national and Carmelita Eleazar, deputy governor of IBP Central Luzon and chairmen of Legal Aid in IBP-Pangasinan, namely, Rafael Martinez, Joseph Amadito Samson, Gerald Gubatan. (Tita Roces)