Bill to provide free legal assistance to all senior citizens

Lawmakers have filed a measure seeking to provide free legal assistance to all senior citizens facing civil or criminal cases in
AKO Bicol Party-list Reps. Christopher Co, Rodel Batocabe and Alfredo Garbin, Jr. filed House Bill 5343 recognizing the need of senior
citizens to be provided free legal services pursuant to the objectives of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003.
“Recognition of the rights of senior citizens to take their proper place in society and make it a concern of the family, community and
government and to adopt measures whereby our senior citizens are assisted and appreciated by the community as a whole,” Co said.
The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 7432, as amended by Republic Act 9994, otherwise known as the “Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2003.”
Batocabe said as provided in the Constitution, it is the declared policy of the State to promote a just and dynamic social order that
will ensure the prosperity and independence of the nation and free the people from poverty through policies that provide adequate social
services, promote full employment, a rising standard of living and an improved quality of life.
“The State shall provide social justice in all phases of national development and that the State values the dignity of every human
person and guarantees full respect for human rights,” Batocabe said.
Garbin said Article XIII, Section 11 of the Constitution provides that the State shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive approach to
health development which shall endeavor to make essential goods, health and other social services available to all the people at affordable cost.
“There shall be priority for the needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly, disabled, women and children.  Article XV, Section 4 of the
Constitution further declares that it is the duty of the family to take care of its elderly members while the State may design programs
of social security for them,” Garbin said.
Under the bill, the privileges to be accorded to senior citizens are legal services and acceptance and appearance fees, in all criminal,
quasi-judicial or administrative cases filed against senior citizens, except necessary and actual expenses incurred, such as, photocopying
and messengerial services, and contingency fees not exceeding 20% of the amount awarded and actually recovered in the case.
Among the controversies or cases which shall not be covered by the privilege under the proposed provision include any information filed
against a senior citizen for commission of crimes involving moral turpitude; any violation of Republic Act 3019 otherwise known as the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and other cases cognizable by, pending before or originating from the Sandiganbayan.
Moreover, intra-corporate disputes and any case filed in accordance with the Family Code, except, in cases of guardianship are also
included among the controversies or cases which shall not be covered by the privilege under the proposed provision.

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