House Eyes No Bail for Poor Litigants

Article excerpt

The House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading the proposed Poor Litigants Equalization Act of 2008 which seeks to grant poor litigants exemption from posting bail if charged with non-capital offenses for the first time.

Considered as one of the most significant justice reform legislations to pass the Lower House during the 14th Congress, House Bill 5523 was unanimously approved after a successful floor defense by Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor, chairman of the House Committee on Justice.

Defensor said the measure would benefit detained persons facing criminal charges for the first time but are practically denied temporary freedom because they could not afford bail cost.

The veteran lawmaker said a litigant who may apply for bail exemption should fall under the category of poor as if his income falls below the poverty threshold as defined by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and if he cannot afford, in a sustained manner, to provide for his and his family's minimum basic needs of food, health, education, clothing, housing, and other essential necessities. …