BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance providing legal assistance to barangay officials in the city who, in the performance of their official duties or in the occasion thereof, have to initiate judicial proceedings or defend themselves against legal actions against them.
The ordinance authored by Councilor Joel Alangsab stated that the City Mayor, in consultation with the City Legal Office, shall review the charges against any barangay official to determine whether or not his or her acts were committed while in the performance of his or her official duties and if found so, shall recommend the same for legal assistance.
Under the proposed ordinance, in availing for the city’s legal assistance program, the legal controversy, whether criminal, civil, or administrative in nature must strictly be work-related; if the legal controversy is between or among the barangay officials, the legal assistance program shall not apply to them; the legal assistance shall only be availed once by an individual covered by the provisions of the ordinance which shall not exceed P20,000; and the sustainability of the legal assistance program shall be subject to availability of funds appropriated for the said purpose.
The ordinance stipulated that the amount of P100,000 shall be appropriated annually from the budget of the local government for the implementation of the legal assistance to barangay officials.
The ordinance tasked the City Legal Office to strictly implement the provisions of the measure to attend to the legal needs of the barangay officials who are either charged or have to initiate legal action for the greater welfare of their constituents.
The local legislative measure stated that in some instances, barangay officials, city officials and employees are being charged either administratively or for other violations by individuals, which acts or violations were committed while in the performance of their official duties.
Most of the time barangay officials, city officials and employees have to seek the help of private lawyers to defend themselves in relation to their acts pursuant to their mandate as duly elected officials of the local government and that they even have to shell out from their pockets the expenses to be incurred in whatever legal action that they have to undertake.
The ordinance added barangay officials, city officials and employees could not actually afford the enormous expenses incurred during the course of the legal action because their salaries are simply just enough to sustain the needs of their families, thus, the need for the local government to come out with the needed legal assistance program to at least help in addressing the monetary requirements of the officials in attending to whatever legal action that will be undertaken for the benefit of upholding the general welfare of their constituents.
The proposed ordinance was referred to the appropriate committee for study and recommendation whether or not it will be subjected to study and recommendation for second and third readings.
By Dexter A. See