UP Law-OLA awarded Gawad Pangulo for “Lingap Legal sa Panahon ng Pandemya”
The UP Office of the President, through the Padayon Public Service Office, presented the Office of Legal Aid (OLA) with the Gawad Pangulo: Award for Excellence in Public Service for its project “Lingap Legal sa Panahon ng Pandemya,” during the 4th Gawad Pangulo Awards held on December 16, 2021.
This year’s theme for the award was “Galing UP, Lingkod Bayan: Pagtugon sa Hamon ng Pandemya.” Focusing on UP’s projects during the pandemic, the Gawad Pangulo was awarded in recognition of UP’s public service mandate.
In his opening remarks, President Danilo Concepcion said that “universities have long served three functions: teaching, generating new knowledge through research, and rendering extension services.” He explained that UP is unique in this regard because its very charter enshrines a commitment to the third function: public service. It is a source of pride to witness the many and varied ways the UP community has embraced its public service mandate, he said, which the UP administration hopes to uphold through the Gawad Pangulo Award.
At the height of the pandemic, thousands of Filipinos lost access to legal aid for various reasons. OLA instituted the “Lingap Legal sa Panahon ng Pandemya” to respond to the continuing needs of its indigent clients as well asto the new challenges of the pandemic. These challenges included videoconference hearings for continuing legal proceedings of OLA’s existing clients, facilitating applications of would-be clients, as well as answering urgent legal inquiries concerning the pandemic such as quarantine violations ejectment for non-payment of rent, among other concerns.
Over the course of the pandemic, OLA rendered various forms of legal aid to around 1,500 people. Since the pandemic intensified human rights violations, OLA also partnered with the Commission on Human Rights to coordinate public assistance with victims.
OLA Supervising Lawyer and Law Reform Specialist Marwil N. Llasos said in accepting the award, “Sa hinaharap, lahat ng natutunan namin sa panahon ng pandemya ay magagamit para lalo pang mapabuti, mapahusay, mapaigting ang serbisyong legal sa sambayanang Pilipino.”
From an original list of 64 public service projects, 32 nominees were deliberated upon by a distinguished board of judges comprised of three UP Professors Emereti namely Jose Dalisay, Jr., Maria Luisa Camagay, and Ida Siason.
OLA was one of 15 awardees from the entire UP system. Other awarded projects involved online medical services, mental health protection, and COVID-19 research coordination and information dissemination.