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PIA Press Release
2008/08/06

Access to justice for poor now in Capiz

by Jemin B. Guillermo

Roxas City (6 August) -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has recently launched the access to justice for the poor program in Capiz.

In coordination with other national agencies and local officials in Capiz, said program was formally launched in Capiz to signal the Access to Justice Network locally.

Director Ma. Suzette Agcaoili of DSWD Central Office explained to media during the press conference, August 1, that the Access to Justice for the Poor is an inter-agency project that builds and strengthens the capabilities of key players in the justice system to enable the poor, particularly women and children, to pursue justice.

Agcaoili revealed that Capiz is one of the five provinces in the country that is being covered by the project. Other provinces include Oriental Mindoro, Camarines Sur, Lanao del Norte and Sultan Kudarat.

Nationwide, the project covers a total of 756 barangays in 36 municipalities from said five provinces, she said.

In Capiz, 11 of the 16 towns here with 265 barangays are being piloted to the access to justice project.

The Access to Justice Network, which is an inter-agency, multi-stakeholder mechanism at the barangay, municipal and provincial levels, was also launched in Capiz with the involvement of volunteer advocates from the various communities here.

The networks will provide information on access to justice-related issues, laws and procedures, Agcaoili stressed, adding that it will also assist citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable persons, women and children, to find the way to have access to the law.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynaldo Puno earlier said that "while is it a noble effort to provide better access to justice to the poor, it is a far nobler effort to put a period to the persistent problem of poverty, so that all Filipinos would have the opportunity within their own means, to protect and enforce the rights owed to them by the State and by their fellow humans."

Meanwhile, the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) urged the Supreme Court to establish legal advisory centers in all of the country's marginalized communities so that indigents can easily obtain legal assistance, information on laws and rights and paralegal training.

The AHRC stressed that the advisory centers will assist the SC in its program of providing equal access for the marginalized sectors and groups.

The group said that such centers should be staffed by government lawyers and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) specialists so that the legal needs of the poor can be easily provided. (PIA) [top]

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