Senator Raffy Tulfo (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Raffy Tulfo underscored the need for the government to strengthen the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) by increasing its budget and current pool of lawyers who are giving legal assistance to indigent parties.

During a courtesy visit by PAO chief Persida Acosta at his Senate office on Wednesday, Tulfo said he will cooperate with the agency to help them serve more Filipinos.

"Gagawin natin ang ating makakaya para madagdagan ang budget ng PAO. Kahit ano man ang maitutulong ng tanggapan ko, gagawin natin (We will do our best to increase PAO’s budget. Whatever assistance my office can give, we will do it)," he said in a news release on Thursday.

"Napapansin ko ngayon sa PAO ay walang tumatagal. Kukuha lang ng experience, tapos lumilipat na. Kasi overwhelmed sa trabaho. Dapat for every court, mayroong enough PAO (I notice now in PAO that lawyers do not stay long. They would just acquire experiences, then transfer because they are overwhelmed with work. There should be enough PAO for every court),” he added.

Acosta said the current 2,400 lawyers nationwide under PAO are not enough, adding that all of them are overworked.

"Overworked sila. After five years, nagpi-fiscal na sila or nagja-judge. Lumilipat kasi napapagod (They are overworked. After five years, they would apply as fiscal or judge. They transfer because they are exhausted),” Acosta said.

PAO is the agency assigned to extend free legal assistance to indigent persons in criminal, civil, labor, administrative and other quasi-judicial cases.

While the PAO lawyers are lacking in number, Tulfo said he hopes that the public lawyers can ensure that the indigent parties can get the justice that they deserve.

"Although alam kong kulang, pero as much as possible, sana ay mayroong enough assistance ang indigent parties pagdating sa inquest level. kasi kung minsan yung Fiscal, nagde-decide din basta-basta na kulang sa ebidensya (Although I know it’s not enough, but as much as possible, I hope the indigent parties have enough assistance when it comes to the inquest level because sometimes this fiscal also decides randomly due to lack of evidence),” he said.

Tulfo nevertheless thanked Acosta for PAO's consistently swift action on several cases that his show, "Wanted sa Radyo," referred to the agency. (PR)