The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is a government agency that provides free legal documentation, consultation, and representation to underprivileged Filipinos who cannot afford to pay a private lawyer.
Operating under the Department of Justice, the Public Attorney’s Office is subdivided into districts that provide free legal services to residents of the surrounding areas.
At present, the district of Lucena is composed of six lawyers serving the cities and municipalities of Lucena, Sariaya, Candelaria, Tiaong, San Antonio, Dolores, Tayabas, Lucban, Pagbilao, Padre Burgos, Unisan, and Agdangan.
The Public Attorney’s Office provides a wide arrange of legal services including documentation such as filing of motions; appeals; and affidavits, mediation, legal counseling, and legal representation.
Majority of the cases they handle are criminal cases; however, they also handle family cases such as annulment, legal separation, and child custody. Depending on the client, they also take on civil cases such as property disputes on certain occasions.
Scope and Limitations
Services offered by the Public Attorney’s Office are meant to benefit underprivileged individuals; therefore, people seeking the office’s legal assistance must be able to prove that they do not have the financial means to hire a private lawyer. This is often done by submitting any of the following:
- Affidavit of Indigency issued either by the barangay where the client resides in or the Department of Social Welfare and Development nearest the client’s place
- Income Tax Return or any other financial document that certifies that the client’s income does not exceed PHP 13, 000.00 per month.
Also, since properties are considered indicators of an individual’s financial status, property disputes are often placed below criminal cases in the office’s list of priorities.
Additionally, PAO lawyers are not allowed to take on cases where conflicts of interest may arise. Because of this, only one side can be represented by the office (usually, the defendant).
In cases where both the complainant and the defendant do not have the means to pay for legal services, the first party to request assistance from PAO will be the one represented by the agency. The other party may, however, be referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ National Center for Legal Aid which also provides free legal services from lawyers in private practice.
Questions and Other Concerns
If you have any questions regarding the services the agency offers, please contact the Public Attorney’s Office through the contact information listed below.
Public Attorney’s Office
3rd Floor, Engracio Tan Building, Quezon Avenue Corner Leon Guinto Sts., Lucena City
Azela Asilo-de Chavez
Public Attorney’s Office