The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) has assured that it will offer free legal services to journalists who will be facing complaints filed against them in the performance of their work.
PAO District Attorney Godfrey Tubo, during the Capitol’s weekly press briefing on Friday last week, said a memorandum has been issued obligating the office to provide free legal assistance to qualified members of the media.
“The PAO has an existing memorandum of agreement obligating us to defend members of the press and the media who have been charged in connection of the performance of their duties including their staff and crew,” said Tubo.
Libel and cyber libel are the most common charges filed against journalists in relation to their work.
According to Tubo, journalists whose monthly income is P20,000 or lower may avail of the free legal assistance.
“Qualified are indigent individuals but not necessarily na wala juy income basta lang na ang net monthly income dili mo lapas ana,” said Tubo.
The legal services will cover defense for journalists from the trial courts all the way to the Supreme Court.
In his brief address, Tubo highlighted the importance of a free press in a democracy.
He stressed on the media’s role in exposing anomalies in government and airing the concerns of the public.
“Media is very important. That is why you are called the fourth estate. Otherwise, ato nalang sunogan ang 1987 Constitution og wala nay mo express sa ilang thoughts. You are very important in a democracy,” Tubo added.
PAO is the principal arm of the government in providing free legal services to indigent citizens pursuant to Section 11, Article III of the 1987 Constitution. (A. Doydora)