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IBP bats for paralegal training for Filcom leaders

20 December 2018

Consul General Antonio A. Morales (above) meets with a delegation from the Intergrated Bar of the Philippines. 

By Daisy CL Mandap

Lawyers from the national office of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines have suggested holding a paralegal training for Filipino community leaders in Hong Kong to make them better equipped to handle legal queries from their members.

The suggestion came from June Ambrosio-Macaspac, director of IBP’s National Center for Legal Aid (NCLA), during a visit by her team to Hong Kong on Dec 15-16.

June Ambrosio-Macaspac, director of IBP’s National Center for Legal Aid (NCLA), and Congen Morales shake hand on future joint projects.
In a meeting with Consul General Antonio A. Morales, Macaspac said there is a group with the University of the Philippines College of Law which conducts formal paralegal training for private individuals or companies. She said their training module could be shortened to fit the needs of overseas Filipino workers.

Congen Morales responded positively to the suggestion, but asked if it was possible to have just a day-long session to minimize costs.

He also asked if the NCLA could coordinate the visits of the various IBP chapters that come to Hong Kong regularly to provide one-on-one legal consultations so the free service could be better utilized.

In a separate meeting with Filcom leaders earlier, the IBP-NCLA team was also asked if a referral system could be set up so OFWs with legal problems or cases could be given names of lawyers in their hometowns who could best provide the services they need.

This, according to Ching Baltazar of Balikatan sa Kaunlaran Hong Kong Council, would help ensure that OFWs are not squeezed for their hard-earned money by unscrupulous lawyers.

Baltazar said, “Ok lang magbayad, pero huwag namang sobra.”

Macaspac said in response that NCLA is ready to give free legal advice to OFWs even if they earn more than what is prescribed for indigent clients.

“Nililibre na ho namin kayo kahit na may means test, at ang kinikita ninyo ay lampas doon sa prescribed income,” she said.

Another leader, Josie Pingkihan of Cordillera Alliance, asked if it was possible for NCLA to come up with primers on such common legal issues such as transfer of title, or respond to their so-called “frequently asked questions.”

Another suggestion was for NCLA to set up a data base of basic information about such issues affecting many migrant workers such as annulment, child custody and property rights.

Other suggestions included setting up a hotline to NCLA for HK migrant workers, a Facebook page where they can post questions, or video consultations with lawyers on Sundays when most OFWs are off work.

Macaspac promised to look into all the suggestions and try to come up with a more efficient way for NCLA to respond to the OFWs’ concerns.

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