By Jeffrey Damicog, October 13, 2020; Manila Bulletin
Despite the pandemic, the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) has now more lawyers to provide free legal service to the public compared to the past years.
“Ang ating abogado nationwide ay 2,427 na (We now have 2,427 lawyers nationwide),” said PAO Chief Persida Acosta during Laging Handa Public Briefing on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
“Kaya ramdam na ramdam namin ang supporta ng Pangulo Duterte po dito (That’s why we feel the support of President Duterte on this),” said Acosta who noted that the PAO previously had 1,048 lawyers nationwide.
Acosta cited that this year the PAO has provided assistance leading to the release of 31,055 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) from March 16 to Aug. 31.
“Kaya kahit po may pandemic tuloy-tuloy po ang trabaho ng mga PAO lawyers (PAO lawyers continue to work even during the pandemic),” she assured.
Acosta pointed out PAO lawyers are like soldiers and policemen.
“Kailangan 24 hours kami pwede para sa mga nahuhulli, para sa mga nangangailangan ng legal services at legal advice (We have to be available 24 hours a day for those who get arrested and for those who need legal services and advice),” she said.
With this, Acosta encouraged the public not to hesitate to contact the PAO through its hotlines, website, and social media accounts.
Acosta said that the PAO main office in Quezon City had installed computer booths where the public can access PAO lawyers.
Even for face-to-face meetings, she said plastic barriers have been installed and both the public and PAO lawyers are required to wear face shields and masks.
Acosta has also divided PAO employees into two shifts to allow them to work from home and at the office at intervals.