CJ Gesmundo Encourages OFWs to File Complaints Against Ambulance Chasers
November 08, 2022
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo warned erring members of the Bar who take advantage of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that they have no place in the justice system, and encouraged the filing of appropriate and verified complaints against these lawyers.
During his meeting with Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Maria Susan V. Ople and other DMW officials on Monday, November 7, 2022, at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Gesmundo underscored that the Judiciary will not tolerate lawyers who prey on our OFWs through ambulance chasing.
“If you’ve seen that some of our OFWs and workers are being exploited by these ambulance chasing lawyers, you are not estopped from filing a complaint with the Court or with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). And then we can take action. But we want to make sure that the complainants are ready to provide evidence,” Chief Justice Gesmundo reassured the DMW.
The DMW officials gave a brief overview of Republic Act No. 11641, or An Act Creating the Department of Migrant Workers, Defining Its Powers and Functions, Rationalizing the Organization and Functions of Government Agencies Related to Overseas Employment and Labor Migration, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes. They also raised issues that the DMW is confronted with concerning OFWs.
DMW Assistant Secretary Jerome T. Pampolina pointed out how ambulance chasing is a real and urgent problem, especially for the maritime sector. It was suggested to intensify measures to instill discipline among lawyers against not just ambulance chasing, but also against other unethical acts.
In response, Chief Justice Gesmundo shared that the Court has been imposing stricter disciplinary measures by suspending or disbarring lawyers who violate the Code of Professional Responsibility. In line with this, the Chief Justice highlighted the ongoing revision to the Proposed Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability, emphasizing how the Court wants lawyers to be more accountable to all their stakeholders. He acknowledged the concern of the DMW against lawyers who take advantage of migrant workers, and strongly encouraged the filing of complaints with the Supreme Court or the IBP against members of the Bar guilty of ambulance chasing.
The Chief Justice further said that the Court is open to working with the DMW to reach out to OFWs and their families in ensuring that access to justice is made available to them, especially since this is consistent with the Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations 2022-2027, the Supreme Court’s blueprint of plans and programs for the next five years.
With the Chief Justice were Associate Justice Jose Midas P. Marquez, Court Administrator Raul B. Villanueva, Assistant Court Administrator and Chief of the Public Information Office Atty. Brian Keith F. Hosaka, and lawyers from the Office of the Chief Justice. Secretary Ople was joined by Undersecretary Bernard P. Olalia, Undersecretary Hans Leo J. Cacdac, Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan, Undersecretary Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, Assistant Secretary Pampolina, Assistant Secretary Jerome A. Alcantara, and Assistant Secretary Francis Ron De Guzman. (Courtesy of the SC Public Information Office)