Ano Ang Ibig Sabihin Ng Indigent Litigant?


“ATTY., MAGSASAMPA PO KAMI NG KASO PARA MABAWI NAMIN ANG LUPA NAMIN PERO WALA PO KAMI PERA SA FILING FEE NG KORTE, PAANO PO KAMI MAKAKALIBRE?” 

ANG ISANG “INDIGENT LITIGANT” AY EXEMPTED SA COURT FILING FEES, SHERIFF FEES AND STENOGRAPHIC NOTE FEES SA PAMAMAGITAN NG PAG-SUBMIT NG AFFIDAVIT OF INDIGENCY NA SIYA AY ISANG MAHIRAP NA TAO NA MAGSASAMPA NG KASO NA WALANG KAKAYAHAN NA MAGBAYAD NG FEES. NGUNIT KUNG ANG AFFIDAVIT OF INDIGENCY AY NAPATUNAYAN NA HINDI TOTOO, ANG KASO AY KAAGAD NA MADIDISMISS AT MAY KAAKIBAT ITO NA KASONG KRIMINAL.

Marami ang nagtatanong sa E-Lawyers Online kung paano magsampa ng kaso ang isang mahirap na walang pambayad ng court filing fee at iba pa. Ganito ang tanong ng isang reader ng E-Lawyers Online:

“Atty., may maliit po akong lupa na 70 sq. mtr ang area at ito po ay kinamkam ng kapitbahay ko nang umuwi ako ng probinsiya. Wala po ako work, paano po magsampa ng kaso sa korte para mabawi ito na hindi muna magbabayad ng filing fee?”

Ayon sa Supreme Court, ang isang “indigent litigant” o mahirap na tao na magsasampa sa korte ng kaso ay hindi naman nangangailangan na mahirap na mahirap o isang pulubi. Kailangan lang na patunayan niya na wala siyang pansuporta sa sarili at pamilya kundi ang kanyang trabaho at wala siyang sapat na pera o ari-arian pambayad sa kaso at iba pa.

“For purposes of a suit in forma pauperis, an indigent litigant is not really a pauper, but is properly a person who is an indigent although not a public charge, meaning that he has no property or income sufficient for his support aside from his labor, even if he is self-supporting when able to work and in employment. [Tokio Marine Malayan Insurance Co. vs. Jorge Valdez, G.R. No. 150107, January 28, 2008]

Ang ating batas ay nagbibigay ng exemption sa isang “indigent litigant” sa pagbabayad ng court filing fees, sheriff fees, stenographic note sa pamamagitan lamang ng pagexecute ng isang “affidavit of indigency” na sinasampa sa korte. Ito ay nasa Section 21, Rule 3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, thus:

SEC. 21. Indigent party. A party may be authorized to litigate his action, claim or defense as an indigent if the court, upon an ex parte application and hearing, is satisfied that the party is one who has no money or property sufficient and available for food, shelter and basic necessities for himself and his family.

Such authority shall include an exemption from payment of docket and other lawful fees and of transcripts of stenographic notes which the court may order to be furnished him. The amount of the docket and other lawful fees which the indigent was exempted from paying shall be a lien on any judgment rendered in the case favorable to the indigent, unless the court otherwise provides.

Any adverse party may contest the grant of such authority at any time before judgment is rendered by the trial court. If the court should determine after hearing that the party declared as an indigent is in fact a person with sufficient income or property, the proper docket and other lawful fees shall be assessed and collected by the clerk of court. If payment is not made within the time fixed by the court, execution shall issue or the payment thereof, without prejudice to such other sanctions as the court may impose.

Ang na-assess na court filing fee ay saka na sisingilin ng korte kung nanalo na siya at merong award na pera ang korte.

Paano mag-qualify ang isang tao bilang isang “indigent litigant”?

SEC. 19. Indigent litigants exempt from payment of legal fees. INDIGENT LITIGANT (A) WHOSE GROSS INCOME AND THAT OF THEIR IMMEDIATE FAMILY DO NOT EXCEED AN AMOUNT DOUBLE THE MONTHLY MINIMUM WAGE OF AN EMPLOYEE AND (B) WHO DO NOT OWN REAL PROPERTY WITH A FAIR MARKET VALUE AS STATED IN THE CURRENT TAX DECLARATION OF MORE THAN THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND PESOS (P300,000.00) SHALL BE EXEMPT FROM THE PAYMENT OF LEGAL FEES.

The legal fees shall be a lien on any judgment rendered in the case favorable to the indigent unless the court otherwise provides.

To be entitled to the exemption herein provided, the litigant shall execute an affidavit that he and his immediate family do not earn a gross income abovementioned nor they own any real property with the fair value aforementioned, supported by an affidavit of a disinterested person attesting to the truth of the litigants affidavit. The current tax declaration, if any, shall be attached to the litigants affidavit.

Any falsity in the affidavit of the litigant or disinterested person shall be sufficient cause to dismiss the complaint or action or to strike out the pleading of that party, without prejudice to whatever criminal liability may have been incurred.”

Bilang example, ang isang karaniwang empleyado ay may gross income na P491 per day at kong dodoblehin ito ay P982 per day. Kung ang isang tao ay may income o kita kasama ang income o kita ng kanyang pamilya ay mababa sa P982 per day at wala siya lupa na nagkakahalaga ng P300,000, siya ay maitutring na “indigent litigant”.

Paano naman ang libreng lawyer?

Ibang qualification ang binibigay ng batas. Ayon sa Rule VI ng Implementing Rules and Regulation ng R.A. 9406 (PAO Law), kailangan ay makapasa ang taong nag-apply para sa free legal service ng PAO sa INDIGENCY TEST at MERIT TEST.

Nasa Section 23 ng Rule VI ang INDIGENCY TEST, kung saan ang isang aplikante sa PAO ay matatawag na “indigent” o “mahirap” kung ang family income does not exceed (P14,000.00) Fourteen Thousand Pesos a month kung nakatira sa Metro Manila o ang family income does not exceed (P13,000.00) Thirteen Thousand Pesos a month sa ibang siyudad/cities; o ang family income does not exceed (P12,000.00) Twelve Thousand Pesos a month sa iba pang lugar. Ang pag-aari ng lupa at bahay ay hindi magdidisqualify sa aplikante para sa free legal services.

Ang aplikante ay kailangan mag-submit ng Affidavit of Indigency at magsubmit ng latest Income Tax Return, or pay slip, or other proofs of income; or Certificate of Indigency from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, its local District Office, or the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office kung saan ka nakatira at Certificate of Indigency from the Chairman of the barangay kung saan ka nakatira.

Nasa Section 25 ng Rule VI ang MERIT TEST, kung saan ang isang aplikante sa PAO ay evaluate muna ang kanyang kaso ay nararapat nilang hawakan dahil ito ay may laban at hindi upang mang-api ng kapwa. Ang criminal cases ng isang mahirap ay considered na meritorious o makakapasa sa Merit Test dahil meron siya presumption of innocence at ito ay kaagad hahawakan ng PAO. Hindi hahawakan ng PAO ang isang kaso kung wala itong pag-asa na manalo sa korte o kaya ito ay pangharass or para maka-injure the opposite party, o ito ay para lamang sa pang-aapi o it will cause oppression or wrong.

Kung nakapasa ang aplikante sa dalawang test na ito, sila ay bibigyan ng free legal service ng PAO at sila din ay exempted from payment of filing/docket and other fees incidental to instituting an action in court and other quasi-judicial bodies.

Kung gusto nyo na magkonsulta tungkol sa indigent litigant at PAO Law at kailangan na mga dokumento nito, register at my website at www.e-lawyersonline.com.

Visit and also like my FB page E-Lawyers Online. Ito ang link http://www.facebook.com/E.Lawyers.Online.


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