30 April 2012

Secretary Leila M. de Lima recently directed the termination of collection of legal fees in the Department of Justice (DOJ). This was previously imposed under Republic Act No. 9279 or "An Act Granting Additional Compensation in the Form of Special Allowances for the Members of the National Prosecution Services and the State Counsels in the Department of Justice, and For Other Purposes."

With the implemented tranches of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL), the 100% increase in the basic salary of prosecutors has been met
which effectively integrates aIlowances as regular pay.

"This will address the recurring issue of denial of access to justice by parties and litigants by imposing an exaction on the redress of wrongs when filing criminal complaints,"De Lima said.

De Lima issued Department Circular No. 025 dated April 12, 2012 ordering all assessment clerks and collection officers in the Regional, Provincial and City Prosecution Offices to cease and desist from assessing and collecting legal fees, revoking Department Circular No. 42 and other related circulars implementing the provision of R.A. No. 9279 and its implementing rules and regulations.

"The DOJ will continue to work hard on making justice available everywhere to everyone ,with the full support of the national government. "We
are studying the need for policy to deter nuisance, harassment or collection suits and urge the citizenry to be judicious when resorting to filing cases," De Lima added.

R.A. No. 9279 took effect on 16 May 2004 as a legislated solution to address the low levels of compensation for prosecutors by sourcing special
allowance from fees for various services rendered. The DOJ is advocating for justice sector-wide compensation scheme for its investigators, prosecutors, counsels, other lawyers and staff to be aligned with industry standards.

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