Baguio City, Philippines – In a bid to fortify access to justice for marginalized sectors, the Supreme Court of the Philippines embarked on a pioneering journey with the launch of the Unified Legal Aid Service (ULAS) Regional Consultations on April 12, 2024. The inaugural leg unfolded at Saint Louis University (SLU), Baguio City, setting the stage for a series of consultations set to traverse the nation.
Guided by the Technical Working Group (TWG) helmed by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, the ULAS Regional Consultations encompass four legs, each serving as a vital platform for stakeholders to dissect, deliberate, and refine the proposed ULAS Rules. Designed to institutionalize a nationwide legal aid program, the consultations invite active participation from diverse sectors, ensuring inclusivity and comprehensive engagement.
Central to the proposed ULAS Rules is the mandate for covered lawyers to dedicate a minimum of 60 hours of pro bono legal aid services every three years, underscoring the constitutional imperative of equitable legal assistance for all Filipinos, particularly the underprivileged.
The consultative nature of the ULAS Regional Consultations is underscored by its hallmark breakout sessions. Participants, comprising lawyers from various firm sizes, solo practitioners, in-house counsels, legal professionals from NGOs/NPOs, and esteemed members of the academe, are afforded the opportunity to scrutinize the proposed Rules, offer insights, and voice suggestions aimed at refining the legal aid framework.
Among the distinguished participants at the Baguio leg were representatives from Wesleyan University-Philippines, led by Associate Dean Atty. Darren J. Gonzales. Accompanying him were esteemed law faculty members, Atty. Reena Clarisse A. Carlos and Atty. Dick F. Fernandez, who also serves as the current President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) – Nueva Ecija Chapter.
Their presence underscores the commitment of academic institutions to contribute meaningfully to the discourse surrounding access to justice and legal aid initiatives.
As the ULAS Regional Consultations continue their journey across the nation, the collaborative efforts of stakeholders promise to yield a robust legal aid framework, empowering the underprivileged and fostering a more equitable society.
For further updates and inquiries regarding the ULAS Regional Consultations, interested parties are encouraged to engage with the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
Text and photos provided by Atty. Darren J. Gonzales