NGO launched crisis hotline, gives free legal advice amid COVID pandemic

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    LEGAL focused group launched a quick response hotline to provide accessible legal advice, consultation, and information aid to the public amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS, Inc) aims to address the crucial need of the communities for correct information and communication in times of crisis and emergencies.

    “Everyone should have access to factual and relevant information and practicable advice, so they can have guided decisions during this challenging time,” IDEALS legal coordinator Atty. AnshelineBacudio said.

    Lawyers and paralegals, through the hotline, give free legal assistance by responding to queries about government protocols, relief operations, social welfare concerns and legal rights education in the context of the enhanced community quarantine.

    IDEALS, Inc. came up with several efforts to reach out to the public and provide a platform where the public can air their concerns and in return, give them attainable and immediate solutions.

    Since the onset, IDEALS has already catered to over 200 clients mostly consisting of employees, from low to middle income earners, who seek clarification on their rights during the lockdown.

    Among others, they are taxi drivers, street vendors, construction workers, LGU employees, utility personnel including janitors and guards, and concerned citizens who wish to inquire about the latest government announcements and ordinances.  Most of them reside within the NCR, but there are some who reside outside as in Tarlac, Bacolod, or Cabanatuan.

    Hotline data analysis also shows that the most Filipinos are affected by illegal dismissal or suspension of employees, salary and hazard pay issues, closure of the employer’s business and slow or lack support from local government units.

    “Many respondents are distressed over meeting their day to day expenses.  Without work and pay, daily wage earners in low-income communities have no money to buy food and other necessities, and must rely on government dole-outs that may or may not be given to them. This proves that the right to quality life is greatly compromised. ” Atty. Bacudio added, emphasizing that the government fails to assure its citizens, especially the marginalized, by securing their primary needs.

    The hotline receives an average of 10 to 20 questions daily through SMS using the IDEALS Dignidad hotline, the IDEALS Facebook page and Radyo Veritas.