Fil-Am lawyers coalesce to give free legal aid

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07:03 AM March 20th, 2013

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By: Carol Tanjutco, March 20th, 2013 07:03 AM

Consul General Mario de Leon (second from right) hosts Filipino American lawyers at the Ambassador’s residence in New York, with lawyers (L-R) Steven Siegel, Bob Rivas, guest Victor Bolden, Chairperson JT Mallonga, Merit Salud and Leandro Lachica.

NEW YORK—Filipino Americans lawyers in this city recently formed a coalition to provide pro bono legal aid to Filipinos who are facing legal trouble by reason of their immigrant origins and legal status but are unable to hire legal assistance due to poverty.

The New York-based Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund (FALDEF) the Philippine Legal Defense and Education Center (PHILDEC) announced their partnership at an event hosted by Consul General Mario de Leon at the Ambassador’s residence. Present as guest speakers were Sanford Rubenstein, Victor Bolden and Councilman Vincent Gentile.

Among the FALDEF volunteer attorneys present were Steven Siegel, former Bergenfield Mayor Robert Rivas, Lito Pernia of NAACP, former Consul Leandro Lachica and Licelle Cobrador.

JT Mallonga, FALDEF founder, reiterated the coalition’s goal of providing “a forum for education, advocacy and scholarships aimed at educating and advancing the interests of Filipinos and the Filipino-American community on issues and matters pertinent to legal rights.”

A short documentary film produced by Diane Paragas showed actual cases handled by the group, the most notable one being that of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, the face of Time magazine’s illegal immigrant. Vargas championed the cause of all DREAMers under the DREAM Act.

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