MANILA, Philippines—The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide free legal aid to women and children who are victims of violence, abuse, neglect, discrimination and human trafficking.
The MOA, signed by IBP president Vicente Joyas and DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman, also covers assistance to children in conflict with the law, and prospective adoptive/foster parents and children.
In a statement, lawyer Minerva Ambrosio, director of the IBP National Center for Legal Aid (NCLA), said the DSWD earlier sought the assistance of the IBP to help the department address the clamor for legal advice, counseling and representation for many women and children who cannot afford the services of competent and committed lawyers.
“The IBP has pledged its legal aid program to assist marginalized groups, with special emphasis on women and children,” Ambrosio said.
Under the MOA, the DSWD will evaluate the cases and submit requests for legal assistance to the IBP president. The IBP president will then refer the requests to the NCLA to verify compliance with its “means and merit” test, which evaluates the financial capacity of prospective clients as well as the worthiness of legal support.
Qualified clients are endorsed by the NCLA to the appropriate IBP chapter. The NCLA may also refer cases to a legal aid office or organization whose advocacy is related to the cases submitted.