Press Release
June 1, 2009


Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas today pressed Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to exempt pre-need victims from paying the required filing fees for their complaints to be filed with the courts.

"Kung sinsero si Secretary Gonzalez sa pagtulong sa mga biktima ng Legacy, I-waive niya ang DOJ filing fees nang sa gayun ay umusad na ang mga kaso laban sa Legacy," said the chairman of the Senate trade and commerce committee, which is investigating the Legacy collapse and the pre-need industry financial plight.

"Ninakaw ni Celso de los Angeles ang mga pera ng kanyang mga biktima na ngayon ay umaasang maibabalik ang mga ito sa tulong ng Department of Justice. Hindi ba naaawa si Secretary Gonzalez sa kanila?" he asked.

In a letter to Gonzalez, the Visayan senator stressed that, "the considerably high DOJ filing fees is another major financial blow to pre-need victims."

He also argued that Republic Act No. 9279 "does not make the imposition of filing fees mandatory nor does it proscribe the non-imposition of the said fees."

He said "it is disheartening that the non-payment of filing fees in the DOJ is now being used as a technicality to dismiss" cases of Legacy victims, such as in the first syndicated estafa case filed against De los Angeles and other Legacy officials, filed by a group of planholders led by Francisco Obsenares.

Obsenares and his fellow planholders initially filed a collective claim of P149 million, for which the assessed filing DOJ fee was pegged at P1.487 million. The complainants were only able to pay P119,322 which was not sufficient. To cut down on the filing fees, the claimants limited their claims to the principal amount of only P93,500. However, the DOJ insisted that they still pay the remaining amount of the original assessed filing fee.

"The urgency with which this appeal is being made cannot be overstated. While pre-need plan holders may have virtually lost all their hard-earned savings to pre-need companies like Legacy, their hope remains that justice will be served fairly without delay," Roxas said.

At the same time, he asked Gonzalez to indefinitely extend the 10-day compliance period given to Obsenares and his group to pay the remaining filing fees until such time that the secretary has considered the senator's appeal.

"The extension of this period will be a welcome reprieve to the complainants and will serve as a beacon of hope that their case will not be dismissed on a mere technicality," he said.

"Tulungan natin ang mga naaapi. Huwag na nating dagdagan pa ang kanilang mga pagdurusa," he said.

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