A group of congressmen have filed a measure that, if enacted, would provide free legal education to aspiring lawyers in state universities and colleges (SUCs) in exchange for working in the government for two years after they pass the bar exams.
Davao City 1st district Rep. Paolo Duterte, Benguet lone district Rep. Eric Yap and ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Edvic Yap jointly penned and filed House Bill (HB) No.7433, titled, “An Act promoting access to quality legal education by providing for free tuition and other school fees in state universities and colleges and appropriating funds therefor”.
They proposed the measure to address the shortfall of practicing lawyers in the country, which, according to them, “undermines the legal representation of every Filipino, and overall, the national justice system”.
Under HB No.7433, all SUCs with a law program accredited by the Legal Education Board (LEB) are qualified to offer free legal education, but should create mechanisms to ensure that this does not apply to students with the financial capacity to pay for their studies.
The bill’s authors pointed out that graduate studies, such as medical and legal education, are excluded from the coverage of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act (Republic Act No. 10931) which institutionalizes free tuition and exemption from other school fees in SUCs and local universities and colleges (LUCs).
While the Doktor Para sa Bayan Act (RA No.11509) was already enacted to offer the Medical Scholarship and Return Service (MSRS) Program to deserving students, there is still no law that mandates scholarships for legal education and the corresponding return service program, they added.
“Our proposal, which is consistent with programs that advocate public service to graduates, includes a mandatory two-year return service program for scholars after passing their bar exams, in a bid to encourage more lawyers