ANOTHER BILL providing scholarships for aspiring lawyers has been filed at the Senate, seeking to increase the legal manpower in government offices.
“There is definitely a need for more public defenders in the country as we only have 2,500 Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) lawyers and each lawyer handles 5,300 cases per year,” Senate Majority Leader Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva said in a statement on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 1639 seeks to amend Republic Act 7662 or the Legal Education Reform Act of 1993 by including provisions for the establishment of a legal scholarship and return service program (LSRS).
The program will include free tuition and other school fees; annual medical insurance; free bar review and application; and allowance for books, uniforms, accommodation, and transportation.
The bill requires passing scholars to render at least a year of return service through the PAO or other government offices, with appropriate civil service rank, salary and benefits.
A similar measure, Senate Bill 1610 or the Free Legal Education Act of 2023, was filed by Senator Rafael “Raffy” T. Tulfo in Dec. 14, but requires scholars to render return service for at least two years. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan