As many of us are stuck at home dealing with the uncertainty and economic hardship brought about by COVID-19 and ECQ, we’ve compiled a list of organizations where you can get free legal aid to help you during this crisis.
5 May 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic and the enhanced community quarantine ("ECQ") have greatly impacted our economy and way of life. Business operations have been severely reduced (if not totally stopped) and both employers and employees alike have had to cope with the fallout. Surveys show that many Filipinos are affected particularly by (a) their dismissal or suspension from work; (b) salary and hazard pay issues; (c) lack of support from local governments; and (d) discrimination of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 individuals.
This new environment has raised many questions on legal rights of individuals and businesses. To help solve your legal worries, Legal Tree has gathered a list of legal aid organizations offering free legal assistance for COVID-19 and ECQ related questions.
1. Ateneo Human Rights Center - Online Legal Assistance Project
The Ateneo Human Rights Center ("AHRC") is a university-based institution in the Philippines promoting and protecting human rights. AHRC gives free legal advice and virtual legal counselling services related to COVID-19 and ECQ such as for arrests due to curfew violations and discrimination of health workers. They are currently prioritizing questions in the following order: (a) emergency cases; (b) ECQ and COVID-19; and (c) all other legal questions.
You can reach AHRC by messaging them on their Facebook page here. AHRC is open every Monday to Friday, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
2. Volunteer Lawyers Against Discrimination
The Volunteer Lawyers Against Discrimination ("VLAD") is composed of more than 100 volunteer lawyers nationwide denouncing acts of discrimination. VLAD was borne out of a need to inform and protect not just front-liners, but also anyone who feels he/she has been discriminated against because of COVID-19. Since its launch on April VLAD has served more than 100 individuals.
In particular, VLAD assists individuals who are: (a) confirmed, suspected and probable COVID-19 patients; (b) healthcare workers; (c) other front-liners; and (d) OFWs. Act of discrimination include: (a) eviction from place of residence; (b) dishonor of contract of lease over real property; (c) termination of employment; (d) acts of violence, threat or intimidation; (e) denial of entry to public places, such as stores, banks, government offices; (f) refusal to give access; (g) libel or slander; and (h) other similar acts.
VLAD can be reached through the following:
3. Integrated Bar of the Philippines
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP") is the official organization of all Filipino lawyers. The IBP offers free legal advice for questions on COVID-19 and ECQ, catering especially to (a) health workers; (b) front-line workers; (c) COVID-19 patients/PUIs/PUMs who experienced discrimination or were arrested while addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
They can be reached through the following:
4. IDEALS, Inc.
The Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services ("IDEALS") is a non-profit, non-stock legal-focused advocacy and service institution. IDEALS addresses the legal and technical needs of the marginalized, disempowered, and vulnerable groups, particularly the farmers, persons and communities affected by disasters, and victims of human rights violations.
IDEALS offers legal advice on all matters related to ECQ, such as employee rights and guidelines and circulars released by the Government. IDEALS has already served over 200 clients, mostly employees affected by (a) illegal dismissal or suspension of employees; (b) salary and hazard pay issues; (c) closure of the employer's business; and (d) slow or lack of support from local government units.
They can be reached through the following:
VALOR-19 is a group of lawyers and law students responding to the people's most urgent legal questions in the time of COVID-19, from ECQ to government assistance, human rights, labor and employment and online free speech. VALOR-19 includes human rights lawyer Atty. Chel Diokno and works in partnership with the Office of the Vice President.
You can reach VALOR-19 by messaging them on their Facebook page here.
#UPLawHelps is an initiative prompted by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. It brings together the entire UP Law Community (Administration, Faculty, UP Law Center, Students, and Alumni) to provide: (a) legal education, counseling, and advise, and (b) if necessary in exceptional cases, legal representation to individuals or sectors affected by the application and enforcement of RA 11469, RA 11332 or rules and regulations pertaining to the Enhanced (in specific areas, “Extreme Enhanced”) Community Quarantine.
#UPLawHelps answers questions on the (a) exercise of civil and political rights; (b) conduct of private and public entities specific to the rights of COVID-19 patients; (c) interruption of businesses and other day-to-day operations, in relation to payments and like obligations; and (d) conflicting rights and obligations arising from scenarios particular to COVID-19 or ECQ.
You can reach#UPLawHelps by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. #UPLawHelps is open every Monday to Friday, from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
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The Legal Tree team
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