Lito Lapid on Legal Assistance to the Poor

Press Release
January 28, 2010

Senate approves Lapid bill on free legal services to the poor

The Senate has passed Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid’s proposal that grants legal assistance to the poor and gives lawyers tax credits for legal services rendered to poor clients.

SB 2361, or the Legal Assistance to the Poor Act of 2010, will encourage more lawyers and law firms to render pro bono services to poor clients who cannot afford lawyers by giving them tax credits for these free legal services.

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

SB 2361 was passed by the Senate last Wednesday, and the bill was co-authored by Sen. Lapid and Sen. Francis Escudero.

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

Lapid also said the law would preclude the wrongful conviction of suspects just because they are poor and cannot afford the legal services of lawyers.

“Nung gobernador pa ako, may nakilala akong nakakulong sa Pampanga Provincial Jail na limang taon ng nakakulong na ang tanging kasalanan lamang n’ya’y nambato ng ilaw sa poste. Wala siyang pambayad ng abugado kaya naisipan kong magpanukala ng ganitong batas dahil naramdaman ko na dapat mayroon akong magawa upang hindi na mangyari ang ganoon,” Lapid said.

Lapid’s legislative work in the Senate also includes the passage of numerous bills enacted into law which he either, principally authored or co-authored.

These laws include the Cheaper Medicines Law which cut the prices of the most useful medicines. Lapid worked as co-author of the consolidated bill that has become the Cheaper Medicines Law. He is also the principal author of the law which made Arnis a national martial art sport.

Lapid is also ranked No. 4 among all senators in the number of bills filed before the Senate with a total of 398 bills and resolutions.

Source for the news.


By the way, I will never vote for Lito Lapid . Part the of the taxes that I pay goes to the government, perphaps small portion of it will be allocated to government official’s salary. I don’t  pay taxes, to cover the salary of  a useless senators. Please no showbiz personalities in the Senate.  Today, I have learned from the news that Jinggoy and Bong Revilla are topping the survey for senatorial race; I cannot help but to react! (violently). Argh!


The  legal assistance to the poor bill was already signed into law by PGMA last February 23, 2010.

Republic of the Philippines
Metro Manila

Fourteenth Congress
Third Regular Session

Begun and held in Metro Manila, on Monday, the twenty-seventh day of July, two thousand nine.



Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

Section 1. Short Title. – This Act shall be known as the “Free Legal Assistance Act of 2010”.

Section 2. Declaration of Policy. – It is the declared policy of the State to value the dignity of every human person and guarantee the rights of every individual, particularly those who cannot afford the services of legal counsel.

Furthermore, it is the 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 and programs that provide adequate social services and improve the quality of life for all.

In addition, the State shall guarantee free legal assistance to the poor and ensure that every person who cannot afford the services of a counsel is provided with a competent and independent counsel preferably of his/her own choice, if upon determination it appears that the party cannot afford the services of a counsel, and that services of a counsel are necessary to secure the ends of justice and protect of the party.

Section 3. Definition of Terms. – As provided for in this Act, the term legal services to be performed by a lawyer refers to any activity which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experiences which shall include, among others, legal advice and counsel, and the preparation of instruments and contracts, including appearance before the administrative and quasi-judicial offices, bodies and tribunals handling cases in court, and other similar services as may be defined by the Supreme Court.

Section 4. Requirements for Availment. – For purposes of availing of the benefits and services as envisioned in this Act, a lawyer or professional partnership shall secure a certification from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), the Department of Justice (DOJ) or accredited association of the Supreme Court indicating that the said legal services to be provided are within the services defined by the Supreme Court, and that the agencies cannot provide the legal services to be provided by the private counsel.

For purpose of determining the number of hours actually provided by the lawyer and/or professional firm in the provision of legal services, the association and/or organization duly accredited by the Supreme Court shall issue the necessary certification that said legal services were actually undertaken.

The certification issued by, among others, the PAO, the DOJ and other accredited association by the Supreme Court shall be submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for purposes of availing the tax deductions as provided for in this Act and to the DOJ for purposes of monitoring.

Section 5. Incentives to Lawyers. – For purposes of this Act, a lawyer or professional partnerships rendering actual free legal services, as defined by the Supreme Court, shall be entitled to an allowable deduction from the gross income, the amount that could have been collected for the actual free legal services rendered or up to ten percent (10%) of the gross income derived from the actual performance of the legal profession, whichever is lower: Provided, That the actual free legal services herein contemplated shall be exclusive of the minimum sixty (60)-hour mandatory legal aid services rendered to indigent litigants as required under the Rule on Mandatory Legal Aid Services for Practicing Lawyers, under BAR Matter No. 2012, issued by the Supreme Court.

Section 6. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Campaign. – The DOJ, in cooperation with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), is hereby mandated to conduct an annual IEC campaign in order to inform the lawyers of the procedures and guidelines in availing tax deductions and inform the general public that a free legal assistance to those who cannot afford counsel is being provided by the State.1avvph!1

Section 7. Reportorial Requirement. – For purposes of determining the effectiveness and social impact of the provisions of this Act, the DOJ shall submit an annual report to both Houses of Congress indicating therewith the number of parties who benefited from this Act.

The report shall state in detail, among others, the geographic location, demographic characteristics and socioeconomic profile of the beneficiaries of this Act.

Section 8. Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). – Within ninety (90) days from the date effectivity of this Act, the BIR shall formulate the necessary revenue regulations for the proper implementation of the tax component as envisioned in this Act.

The Supreme Court shall formulate the necessary implementing rules and regulations with respect to the legal services covered under this Act and the process of accreditation of organizations and/or associations which will provide free legal assistance.

Section 9. Separability Clause. – If any provision of this Act is declared unconstitutional or invalid, the other provisions not affected by such declaration shall remain in full force and effect.

Section 10. Repealing Clause. – Any law, decree, ordinance or administrative circular not consistent with any provision of this Act is hereby amended, repealed or modified accordingly.

Section 11. Effectivity Clause. – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its complete publication in the Official Gazette or in two (2) newspapers of general circulation.


Speaker of the House of Representatives
President of the Senate

This Act which is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 2361 and House Bill No. 4301 was finally passed by the Senate and the House of the Representatives on January 27, 2010 and January 26, 2010, respectively.

Secretary General
House of Represenatives
Secretary of Senate

Approved: FEB 23, 2010

President of the Philippines


Luna Mystica

Emo mode

I am aware that the photo above will not justify how beautiful the moon was last night. Skygazers have  surely noticed how extra brilliant and big  the moon on January 30, 2010.  A blue moon occurs every 2.5 years. The month of January 2010 is extraordinary since blue moon came twice this month – New Year’s Eve and January 30 respectively.

What I found last night was a sight to behold!  On a quiet Manila evening at my place, the moon shines over the Makati skyline.

Chinatown in Manila

The fun-filled day started at Binondo Church, apparently there was a parade of Santo Nino images, to honor the feast of Santo Nino.  It was a version of the Sinulog festival, locals carried their Santo Nino images from their home, some people danced to the drum rhythm while they revel on the street.

Santo Nino Images placed on top of a pedicab

After the procession, we decided to have a walking tour around Binondo to have a feel of Manila Chinatown. You would know you are in Binondo when you see Chinese signages, vibrant oriental decorations, red lanterns, food halls , and amulet stores.

Binondo also known as the Chinatown in the Philippines is one of the oldest Chinatown in the world  founded in 1596. A compact community with great walkability. The epicenter of Binondo is the popular street of Ongpin, named after Roman Ongpin. Ongpin is a Chinese businessman who secretly supported the Philippine revolution by providing foods, money, and provisions to the revolutionists. In recognition to his support to the Filipinos, his monument stands beside Binondo Church.

Roman Ongpin Monument

The whole stretch of  Ongpin is  like a theme park of foods. There are  massive food stalls in almost every establishments –  traditional chinese delicacies.  Crowd flocks the area because of the dining options with low prices. However the most popular food stop would be President  Grand Palace Restaurant, a favorite to both  Filipino and Chinese families. 

For dumpling lovers here’s Tasty Dumplings. 

Hopia anyone?  Eng Bee Tin makes the best Hopia in town, and Tikoy too.

Siopao made in Ongpin will surely satisfy our ravenous stomach.

Food odyssey it is!

We stopped by at President’s Restaurant, it is again open after almost a year and a half renovation. They offer various dishes of chicken, duck, pigeon, frog, crab, prawn, shark fins, and vegetables.

We had Fish lip soup, Yang-chow, Braised duck with Mixed vegetables, and Hakaw. Their servings  are good to feed four people, but we were only two.  lol


Chinatown remained to be one of the most important trading communities in Manila. When visiting this place, do not miss the shopping opportunities. Chinese traders offer  home appliances, clothing apparels, chinese trinkets, household wares, charms, amulets, and pieces of gold jewelry.

There are Chinese beliefs  that oriental decorations along with charms bracelets and amulets could affect one’s happiness, wealth, good health and relationship.

Chinatown has busy atmosphere, it has its  own charm probably because of the authentic feel chinese neighborhood; they too have already adapted to the ways of our country but managed to remain true to their Chinese roots.

(LP: 89) Staycation, I like!


Harbor Square, CCP Manila

One of the most exciting activities to do in life is travelling or out-of-town trips.  Who would not want to travel places? For me it is the best cure to de-stress from our mundane day-to-day activities.  Another “gone for a weekend” trip for family, husband and wife, girlfriends and boyfriends, relatives, and  barkadas is an opportunity to rekindle relationships, to reunite,  and  to cath up things.  Simply put, an opportunity to have an ultimate bonding experiences (UBE) with love ones.   While exploring places are fun, spending so much money for fun is definitely not funny.

Paco Park, Manila

In times of recession, when bills are overwhelming, when take home pay is shrinking, it is but wise to be financially conscious. Let alone thoughtless extravagance, because what’s popular today is travelling frugalista style.

Children Educational Tour, Luneta Park, Manila

One of the most recent words in the world of travel and tourism  is “STAYCATION”,  Mr Webster defines it as a vacation spent at home or nearby.  Wikipedia says a staycation (also spelled stay-cation, stacation, or staykation) is a neologism for a period of time in which an individual or family stays at home and relaxes at home or takes day trips from their home to area attractions.

I love the concept of stay – cation, because it promotes local tourism .  Travelling closer to home or at the comfort of our own backyard without packing things, without buying plane tickets, and pulling a lot of money from the  wallet- awesome!

 There are countless staycations to enjoy in Metro Manila alone. How about museums?  most museums offer free or if not minimal entrance fees. History buffs will surely enjoy the hidden treasures and troves of our city museums. Photo enthusiasts may also find great subjects/inspirations from these places . Picnic at theme parks, or exploring Filipino street foods, chinese street foods along the streets of Chinatown, going to animal zoos, and checking out Manila’s historical sites. 

The list goes on. I am not suggesting to ditch the whole idea of traditional vacation for staycation. It is also beneficial for our country’s tourism to visit the different provinces and cities of the Philippines. Once in a while it is nice to take vacation outside-  far from home. But it would not hurt if you indulge yourself getting to know more of  the city or town where you stay- Fun and less costly.

Escolta: Old Manila Flashback in Photographs

Escolta was once the seat of financial district in Manila. During the post colonial era and pre war in Manila, Escolata was marked by  beauty and splendor. The high-end  fashionable shops and department stores were located here. It was reputed as the place for shopping of the rich.

Fashionable women along Escolta Street.

To have a glimpses of the once opulent place, I visited the Escolta Museum, inside Calvo Building, along Escolta Street.

Calvo Building

The museum is found  at the second floor of the building. There are two rooms displaying vintage bottle collections, old photographs, and copies of revolutionary newspapers . Entrance fee is 50 pesos per person, according to the curator, most of the visitors are foreigners. The existence of the Museum is not known to many locals.
Entrance to the Museum

Inside the Museum

The vintage bottles are uncommon, their designs and colors express the sophistication and ingenuity of the glassmaker’s art.  These bottles connect us with history by providing us insight to the ways of commerce : marketing and advertising.

Newspaper advertisements are also exhibited on the bulletin boards. The content of these papers reflect the life and soul of the community pre war era.  Because of these papers, today’s generation is given a greater level of understanding of how was life during pre-war. The revolutionary newspapers also give context to the lives of those who lived 100 years  before us.

The collections are very educating. I admire the  extremely valuable contribution of the people who are behind the creation of Escolta Museum : Escolta Commercial Association, Inc.

After visiting the museum, I had a leisurely walk along the street of Escolta. Interestingly, just across Calvo building,  the Capitol Theater still stands to date, although already closed to public.   The building was designed by National Artist Juan Nakpil.

Heading straight from Capitol Theater led me to Pasig River Cruise station. I took  some snaps of the Manila Post Office from there, since the view is unobstracted. Manila Post Office is located at Plaza Lawton, at the foot of Santa Cruz Bridge.

I ended my Escolta exploration by having savory pancit lomi and fried chicken at Savory Restaurant.


Another worthy Manila trip.

Celebrating 400 years of Thomasian Spirit: UST Quadricentennial Digital Photography Competition

Calling all fellow Thomasians who are into photography! You might be interested in joining the Photo contest organized by Pinoy Photography Organization and UST.  Hmm sounds like I will be setting aside one fine Sunday at UST.

Poster credit to Pinoy Photorgraphy. See contest mechanics here.

Update: See  Finalists Result HERE.

Go Greek in Makati

Here’s my another food expose: Go Greek in Glorietta 4, Makati. It was sometime last week of December last year when I came to know about Go Greek from my officemate. I did checked it out and tried what was in store.

The restaurant offers mousakka, kebab, gyro, and lemon chicken to name a  few. I am fond of their lamb kebab platter. The kebab platter consists of a choice of either potato or rice, kebab, and green salads. The price is incredibly reasonable since their servings are huge.

Kebab (Lamb) Platter

Mixed Shawarma

This week, me and my officemates went back to Go Greek, not just once but twice! This time I ordered their lambchop platter. Did I mention that I am trying to cut  a little of my food intake? Food has been my major activity since December. This budget friendly restaurant that offers fresh greek meal is just so irresistible. For a fleeting moment, I forgot I am on a diet.