THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Davao Chapter plans to hold another free "Legal Aid Mission" for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Singapore in January 2018.

Speaking at the Habi at Kape at Abreeza Ayala Mall Wednesday, October 11, IBP-Davao chapter president lawyer Rogelio Largo said the plan was developed after the members of the IBP-Davao had its first legal aid mission in Hong Kong early this year.

IBP-Davao’s legal mission, Largo said, assists OFWs, who are mostly working as domestic helpers, about their issues and concerns while working abroad.

Largo said among the problems the workers have been experiencing are related to their marriage, finances (as some were victims of scams), work conditions, salaries and benefits, and psychological torture from their employers.

IBP-Davao director lawyer Marie Kristine Reginio said they were glad to hear all the issues and concerns of the OFWs. She added that they will be doing another round of the legal consultation abroad to help OFWs.

"We are very passionate about it as we intend to do it again. Lawyers are not known for doing humanitarian acts, but here we would like to rekindle the interest of giving back to the community through our legal aid services," Largo said.

He said they would also like to develop a sense of volunteerism on the part of the lawyers under IBP as their way of performing a social responsibility.

Largo added that they anticipate more lawyers who will be joining in the next legal mission.

He said there are about 150 to 200 lawyers in Davao Region. Lawyers from Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte signified their intent to join the mission.

Largo said they already got the approval from the Philippine Embassy in Singapore for their next mission, which they have started planning. He added that this will still be done by IBP-Davao Chapter and they are expecting 1,000 OFWs.

"This endeavor aims to benefit in distress OFWs in other countries. It is not just about listening to their stories and giving them enlightenment on laws, we would also like to come up with a proposal that we will endorse soon to our congress representative for possible enactment in congress on things that we can improve in our laws all for the interest of our OFWs," Largo said.

Largo said IBP-Davao launched, during their installation on September 30, an expanded and intensified legal aid program so-called Legal Aid Warriors (LAW) Project, which envisions involving not less than 100 lawyers.

The program also aims to address the increasing number of criminal cases filed in courts due to the government's crackdown on drugs, corruption and criminality, thus, the surge in the work loads of defenders from Public Attorney's Office.

Since few non-government organizations in the city handle public interest cases, the LAW program also aims to address this concern, Largo said.

The project is founded with principles that IBP, where all lawyers are members, is mandated to help improve the administration of justice.

The LAW Project also envisions providing adequate and efficient free legal representation to deserving indigent client/pauper litigants in some cases. It also envisions creating volunteer lawyers.

The IBP, through the years, has been undertaking activities aimed at elevating the standards of the legal profession, improving the administration of justice, and enabling the bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively.