Victims of Violence against Women and Children (VAWC), Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL) and prospective adoptive parents can now avail of the legal assistance from the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO). This is through the Memorandum of Agreement executed between the said office and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

In the said agreement, the DSWD will endorse to PAO victims of VAWC, CICL, and indigent prospective adoptive parents who are in need of legal assistance. Services of the PAO will include representation of the client through a Public Attorney. The Public Attorney shall be then responsible to conduct interview with the client and screening for possible witnesses, preparation and filing of necessary affidavits and pleadings, and appearance as counsel during trials and other hearings.

Social Worker Mae Aromin said that in the Cordillera Administrative Region, 28 clients from the DSWD centers and institutions are already availing of the said service. Most of this number are CICLs housed in the Regional Rehabilitation Center (RRCY) for the Youth and the Regional Haven Home for Women and Girls.

Meanwhile, prospective adoptive parents who are biological parents or step-parents of the prospective adoptee who will be found to be indigent will also be able to avail of the free legal assistance. As defined in the agreement, an indigent person is an individual whose net income does not exceed P14,000.00 a month for Metro Manila residents, P13,000.00 a month for other cities residents, and P 12,000.00 a month if clients reside in other places not mentioned above. An Indigency Test will still be conducted to ensure that the client could qualify for the free legal assistance.

Aside from the legal assistance from PAO, qualified clients will also receive assistance on case management from the DSWD. The DSWD will be responsible in gathering the client’s background information and in collection and submitting document and other evidences to support the case. Clients will also be able to avail of psychosocial intervention appropriate to their needs based on the assessment of the social worker.  Court appearance and testimony of DSWD social worker and/ or psychologist will be provided if necessary.

Aromin emphasized that case management is necessary for the aforementioned cases to ensure that no psychosocial damage will be done during the process. She further encouraged victims of VAWC to avail of the free legal service. “Hindi dapat sila matakot at mahiya. Kung sino man ang nakaranas ng VACW, maari silang lumapit sa DSWD para mabigyan natin sila ng tulong.”, Aromin added.

Individuals who seeks to avail of this service may ask the assistance of their local social welfare and development officer or call the DSWD Field Office CAR at (074) 444- 32-09 for further clarifications or assessment. # DSWD-CAR Social Marketing Unit, Arnold Frias (SMU-Intern)

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