Lapid to BIR: Enforce 12-year-old free legal aid law

Lito Lapid, Free Legal Assistance Law

FILE PHOTO Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid. (Screengrab/ Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Lito Lapid prodded the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) anew to immediately act on a law granting tax deductions to lawyers providing free legal aid to the poor.

In a letter to new BIR Commissioner Lilia Guillermo on Monday, Lapid reiterated his request to the tax agency to come up with the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act No. 9999 or the Free Legal Assistance Act, a measure that he authored and became law in 2010.

“Twelve years since the law was signed, the law is still unimplemented, primarily because the Bureau of Internal Revenue has yet to promulgate the necessary Implementing Rules and Regulations,” he lamented in the letter.

“The law provides that it should have been issued 90 days from the date of its effectivity,” he added.

This was not the first time that Lapid has asked the BIR to act on the law

He stressed that the law would benefit many Filipinos “in dire need of free legal services.”

“It behooves our law enforcers to implement this measure at the soonest possible time,” he further said.

According to the senator, the law encourages lawyers and professional firms to render actual free legal services to the poor to help decongest the workload at the Public Attorney’s Office.

It also ensures that every person who cannot afford the services of a counsel is provided with competent and independent counsel, preferably of their own choice.

In return, lawyers and professional firms would be granted tax incentives through allowable tax deductions of up to 10 percent of their gross income based on actual free legal services rendered.

EDV/abc

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