MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, September 18, hailed the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) for organizing its 6th Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) program encouraging public lawyers to protect the weak and vulnerable.
“We lawyers do not cease to be students of the law upon passing the Bar Examinations. Our duty to undergo MCLE every three years reminds us all that [like] the law, we also need to be updated once in a while,” the President said in his speech.
“It is therefore my sincere hope that as you begin your courses today, you also keep in mind that as public attorneys, you sharpen your legal skills not for fame or for profit, but for the protection of the weak and vulnerable,” he added.
He asked public attorneys to strengthen their resolve as the government addresses the overwhelming demand for legal services from the marginalized sectors of society.
According to the President, PAO’s services become even more crucial at a time the government pursues its campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.
“By protecting the rights of arrested suspects, you complement our government’s drive against criminality by ensuring that our police operations are aboveboard and individual rights are not violated,” he said.
The Chief Executive commended PAO for providing assistance for indigent suspects despite being understaffed and with congested docket.
Despite these challenges, PAO posted 76 percent win rate for cases it handled. To address congestion problem, the President said his government initiated efforts to provide public attorneys with the proper tools to fulfill their duties.
The Department of Budget and Management has already approved the hiring of 397 new lawyers this year and another 357 for next year, according to the President.
The Department of Public Works and Highways and the National Housing Authority have also entered into an agreement with PAO to build a new PAO Central Building worth more than PHP900 million.
The President also promised to extend additional support to PAO lawyers particularly by possibly giving them allowance.
At the same time, the President encouraged lawyers to fight for justice and to protect the rights of the underprivileged even as the government sustain its efforts against criminality and illegal drugs.
“With your support, we will rid our streets of criminality and create a brighter future for our children and the succeeding generations,” he said.
The members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) who are not exempted under Rule 7 of Bar Matter No. 850-Supreme Court of the Philippines are mandated to complete every three years at least 36 hours of continuing legal education approved by the MCLE committee.
This is to ensure that lawyers throughout their career, remain updated with law and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession and enhance the standards of practice of law.
For public attorneys, this legal requisite is being provided with the help of PAO. In the past few years the PAO held five MCLE-accredited conventions and offered free legal education activities as prescribed by the Supreme Court.
This year, PAO is holding its 6th Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Accredited National Convention of Public Attorneys from September 18 to 22 at the Tent City in Manila Hotel. (PND/PNA)