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Lawyers, OVP offer free legal aid online amid COVID-19 crisis


A group of lawyers, including human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, has launched a free legal consultation to the public online dubbed as VALOR-19 amid the COVID-19 threat.

In a statement, Diokno said VALOR-19—which stands for Volunteers and Lawyers Organized for the Rule of law— is a group of lawyers and law students committed to the rule of law and responding to the people's most urgent legal questions during the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

 

 

In the group’s Facebook page, it states that topics covered in consultation range from the enhanced community quarantine, government assistance amid the COVID-19 threat, human rights, labor and employment, exercising free speech online, among others.

Those who want to ask the group for questions by sending a message over their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VALOR-19-104839134520649/.

The VALOR-19 project is in partnership with the Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo.

Earlier this week, Diokno announced that he is serving as a legal counsel for a social media user whom the National Bureau of Investigation is probing for alleged peddling of fake news.

Diokno did not name his client, but he did disclose that the individual in question was being investigated for a social media post questioning the Duterte administration’s P2 billion private jet purchase that the said person argued should have been used to provide healthcare for Filipinos.

The Bayanihan law, which allowed President Rodrigo Duterte to realign P275 billion worth of national budget to address the problems brought about by the COVID-19 threat, also has a provision penalizing supposed peddlers of fake news.

Specifically, Section 6(6) of the law punishes “individuals or groups creating, perpetrating, or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid of beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion; and those participating in cyber incidents that make us or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts.”

Likewise, the same law sets a penalty of two months jail time or a fine of P10,000 to P1 million or both, at the discretion of the court. — Llanesca T. Panti/RSJ, GMA News