Safeguarding of Liberty and Nurturing of Prosperity Under the Rule of Law

By: Jose Noel B. Hilario

University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Law

 

Executive Summary

 

     When I was a child I always hear the importance of education. I heard it several times from my parents and from others which at times seem trivial perhaps by reason of my young age. Nonetheless, looking back I thank God for our situation in life for it helped me realize education’s true importance.

     As a boy I already knew that we are not among those fortunate people born with a silver spoon albeit we are not poor. That is why I have been well oriented that I must do well in school and in enriching my knowledge and wisdom. One of the greatest values I learned is that education is a treasure that will never be taken from you. In addition, I knew then that it is also life’s greatest equalizer. That is why I fully submit and adhere to my High school’s philosophy, which espouse that “The Essence of Education is Liberation from the bondage of Ignorance and Poverty”.

      Life reminds me now that I’m blessed to have been liberated from the ills of ignorance which plague some of our fellows by reason of many factors such as lack of opportunity, poverty, lack of support and proper mindset including the seemingly never-ending cycle of poverty which many of our poor brethren cannot seem to unchain. Indeed, experience taught me that with enough support, opportunities, proper conditioning of one’s mind and with sufficient premium to education, liberty and prosperity is not too far.

     Liberty and prosperity goes together in perfect harmony. One cannot perfectly achieve lasting peace and satisfaction without the other for we are by nature interdependent beings. First, is our interdependence with the Creator in which we attribute all our works for His glory and joy. And second, is our interdependence with the fellow beings because I submit, no person and no country could achieve its optimum development and prosperity in isolation.

     Liberty and Prosperity however, were often treated separately and worse in complete disregard or isolation with the other. But who can we blame for that? When even our history suggest that albeit our nature requires us to walk in perfect harmony we would rather choose and be plagued with just either or even none of these essentials, which is in complete disregard of our purpose and faculties’ ability. As we examine some human behaviors we would see people acting as if they are god, although they are no more than men who thinks life revolves by themselves. States as well act with utter superiority, struggling for their quest for power, affirmation and dominance. This might be stretching the point but these behaviors can be attributed due to the failure to observe basic principles of interdependence which failure in practice and continuous denial hereof would result to instability and downfall. An illustration can be shown by what happened in our country during martial law, because of our leader’s desire to “achieve prosperity” thru unwarranted control and by giving a very high premium to stability which at the end of it backfired not just to the President’s leadership and administration but also to our country. Instead of prosperity what we received were revolutions, coup, and the glorious people power, all because of the lack of balance and interdependence of liberty and prosperity. History told us that to a certain extent, our people’s liberty was denied resulting to the natural consequence of an unsatisfied populace who because of such denial of human rights, due process and liberty revolted to be freed from the clutches of dictatorship.

     Often the masses were plundered and do not know it, that is why they need advocates. Hence, as a future lawyer I take the task of minimizing the bondage of poverty and hunger by studying, applying and promoting the rule of law. I hope to inspire those who thought that they could no longer unchain from the shackles of helplessness. Because indeed, liberty and prosperity could turn and shape a person inside the cave into someone society ought them to be.

 


         When I was a child I always hear the importance of education. I heard it several times from my parents and from others which at times seem trivial perhaps by reason of my young age. Like a trivia we often acknowledge its importance without delving deep as to its real significance as long as we know it for a fact. Nonetheless, looking back I thank God for our situation in life for it helped me realize education’s true importance.

          As a boy I already knew that we are not among those fortunate people born with a silver spoon albeit we are not poor. That is why I have been well oriented that I must do well in school and in enriching my knowledge and wisdom. One of the greatest values I learned is that education is a treasure that will never be and cannot be taken from you. In addition, I knew then that it is also life’s greatest equalizer. That is why I fully submit and adhere to my High school’s philosophy, which espouse that “The Essence of Education is Liberation from the bondage of Ignorance and Poverty”. Life reminds me now that I’m blessed to have been liberated from the ills of ignorance which plague some of our fellows by reason of many factors such as lack of opportunity, poverty, lack of support and proper mindset including the seemingly never-ending cycle of poverty which many of our poor brethren cannot seem to unchain. Indeed, experience taught me that with enough support, opportunities, proper conditioning of one’s mind and with sufficient premium to education, liberty and prosperity is not too far.

          Liberty and prosperity goes together in perfect harmony. One cannot perfectly achieve lasting peace and satisfaction without the other. We are by nature interdependent beings. First, is our interdependence with the Creator in which we attribute all our works for His glory and joy, in the hopes of receiving the better end on judgment day. Second, is our interdependence with the fellow beings because I believe that indeed, no person and no country could achieve its optimum development and prosperity in isolation. Liberty and Prosperity however, were often treated separately and worse in complete disregard or isolation with the other. But who can we blame for that? Facts and previous data suggest that albeit our nature requires us to walk in perfect harmony we would rather choose and be plagued with just either or even none of these essentials, which is in complete disregard of our purpose and faculties’ ability. As we examine some human behaviors we would see people acting as if they are god, although they are no more than men in complete ignorance acting that they know everything and could live in isolation. States as well act with utter superiority, struggling for their quest for power, affirmation and dominance. This might be stretching the point but these behaviors can be attributed due to the failure to observe basic principles of interdependencewhich failure in practice and continuous denial hereof would result to instability and downfall. An illustration can be shown by what happened in our country during martial law, because of our leader’s desire to “achieve prosperity” thru unwarranted control and by giving a very high premium to stability which at the end of it backfired not just to the President’s leadership and administration but also to our country. Instead of prosperity what we received are revolutions, coup d’état, and the glorious people power, all because of the lack of balance and interdependence of liberty and prosperity. History told us that to a certain extent, our people’s liberty was denied resulting to the natural consequence of an unsatisfied populace who because of such denial of human rights, due process and liberty revolted to be freed from the clutches of dictatorship.

          As I continue to study law, I realized that our laws are astoundingly beautiful although at the same time I recognize its own shortcomings and limitations.  To some students of law they may say that they want to study the same to liberate others from abuse and denial of rights. While to some they may assert that they wanted to become lawyers simple because they want to earn and enrich themselves. As to the two views, notably, our Code of Professional Responsibility rightfully and logically responds by saying that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him (Canon 17). This implies that as a lawyer we are not engaged in a mere money making business, instead we owe fidelity to the real purpose of our profession which is the safeguarding of liberty and nurturing of prosperity under the rule of law. That is why in the words of Chief Justice Panganiban in BURBE v. MAGULTA “Lawyering is not a business; it is a profession in which duty to public service, not money, is the primary consideration”. As lawyers, and responsible citizens of the Republic of the Philippines we hold the duty to the public of safeguarding the rights of our fellow under the rule of law and at the same time to promote their prosperity within the bounds of the law.

          In my day to day journey at the University of Santo Tomas, my usual routine is to first ride the tricycle bound to Hi-top Anonas. From there I will walk to the Light Rail Transit (LRT) to ride the train bound to Legarda. I will then again find myself riding a pedicab or tricycle to eventually reach my destination, UST. In the midst of this daily routine I would always encounter a poor and helpless old woman in the streets of Anonas. My first and honest response is to pray for her and oftentimes, I would also give her whatever kind of food or snack I have inside my bag. As a student, that was the only thing I know I can do for her considering that I may not have the sufficient funds and also because my mindset was always preoccupied with many other things including the difficult law subjects.

          One Friday afternoon, my mom decided to go to Quiapo so I decided to travel along with her since we’re both bound to Manila. In this travel again we encountered the old woman. This time my mom saw what I did.  Notably however mom said jokingly “Panay pambara lang binibigay mo, susunod samahan mo ng tubig naman”. From that simple joke I realized that mama was right. Indeed, I could do more than that. Yes, I might have save the old woman from her hunger during that day but the question remain unanswered, did I really help her on her struggle that way? I may not have because I have failed to give her water or I may have done my part. But, from that simple instance I learned a bunch of things. I realized that sometimes we are too focused on doing good on one aspect. Moreover, when that one aspect is already an act of doing well (like giving some food to the needy) we are often satisfied without delving deeper as to the real need and mourning of our brethren. Indeed we usually respond in a shallow way. In a similar vein, as a law student, I believed before that my calling as a lawyer starts and ends by safeguarding the liberty of my fellow, until I saw a different light.

          As future lawyers, we must safeguard and advocate the value of promoting our brothers and sisters well-being. It is not sufficient that we just act and expect that our real long term outcome would be realized by focusing on only giving food without anything else. That is why according to Chief Justice Panganiban, “Justice and jobs; freedom and food; ethics and economics; democracy and development; nay, liberty and prosperity must always go together; one is useless without the other. The attainment of this dual goal involves an understanding of the intertwining relationship of law and business; and of regulation and entrepreneurship.”

          Just like my experience, the story above also goes well with the majority of our society. Law students and lawyers were often too focused in the single aspect of the value of the rule of law. Many if not few, were conditioned that as long as he safeguards his/her liberty he has done his part. On the other hand, some might have that mindset that as long as they receive compensation, they are at the victorious side of it notwithstanding the fact that they did might have done that the expense of chaining one’s soul for lack of conscience. Liberty without prosperity and vice versa seems to dominate the field. But this cannot be perpetuated. As a lawyer, our culture and DNA must change. A life check must be realized by everyone to understand that our duty does not end by espousing one and leaving the other. Karl Marx historical materialism proves that the pattern of our history is in line with logic. Our history championed well the cry of the society. From the rise of consciousness to liberate from our colonizers; from dictators and from poverty and its repetitive cycle we now move to the value of individual rights. All of which as Marx argues, is the product of the clash of the thesis and anti-thesis. This therefore follows that in order to successfully champion the rights of our people and clients, we must as lawyers and law students start to champion human rights in all of its aspect, lest our duties of safeguarding their rights would become a mere illusion in this modern age. Gone are the days when people struggle just for their liberty   and nothing more because today requires a more dynamic lawyer to safeguard the more dynamic and complex lifestyle of our society.

          So the question goes like this, how would I espouse liberty and prosperity under the rule of law? To answer that, allow me to divide the response in a variety of levels and views.

          First, as a law student, I would have to first study by heart that my duty is to learn in every way that I am studying to promote liberty and prosperity. This basic step I believe would be the foundation of translating it into reality. Consequently, this require transforming myself into an advocate of such philosophy. Currently, after being oriented with the value and realizing that liberty and prosperity must indeed be espoused by each and every lawyer, I am already asking myself in each and every legal question that I face on how I would apply the interdependence of liberty and prosperity under the rule of law. This is manifested by the line of questions in my mind that now already works this way “How can I help solve his/her/their legal problem and at the same time help them live a good life after it, by promoting their prosperity?”

          Indeed, this line of thinking perhaps goes out of the norm as of now because students often only think of answering the question at hand without considering the consequence afterwards, but I submit that with sufficient advocates starting from the grassroots which is inside the law school where future lawyers are being honed, liberty and prosperity under the rule of law would eventually be the name of the field.

          An illustration of the above is when I studied the Intellectual Property Law. Normally, I would study it for the purpose of learning the underlying policy and solution answered by the law, like to promote and protect intellectual creations. But nowadays, I am thinking beyond it like responding beyond. I am now more inclined in asking how that law can help promote the prosperity of the stakeholders. For example, on the part of the intellectual property owners, this law would encourage creativity, invention and innovation because of the reward of exclusive rights to their respective creations that can be used to recover the cost and effort of their production. On the other hand, for the part of the government, if this law would be successful in its goal of protecting Intellectual property rights and at the same time of preventing if not eradicating illegal sale and transaction of any product of imitation of intellectual properties, our government funds allocated for the administrative expenses would be minimized and would be used for some other general welfare purposes. Hence, supporting what I have said earlier that our law is beautiful that in espousing both ways—liberty and prosperity.

          Moreover, with respect to our law on transportation I submit that the current proscription to the so called “Kabit system” must be given teeth by a proposed penalty for its violators. For currently, I believe that the law and jurisprudence only caters to the civil aspect of reimbursing the victims as to the damage it directly cause them without considering the public that is still chilled by the fear of being one of the victims of recklessness, the root of which is the lack of check and responsibilities established among this kabit system users. Again, liberty from fear by the public and prosperity by the assurance or security.

          In addition, as a current understudy of the UST Law Review I hope to someday use the journal as an avenue to espouse the philosophy of the foundation by promoting its importance through the journal that is annually published by the Facult. Hence, as a law student, I believe that my enthusiasm for studying criminal law, political law and civil law must likewise flow with my study of the other fields and branches of law on the premise that in order to fully cater the best solution to our society, it warrants that we produce dynamic lawyers and equip them with the tools of espousing liberty and prosperity.

          Second, as a future lawyer, I will apply the philosophy of safeguarding liberty and the nurturing of prosperity under the rule of law by always considering the philosophy as a goal in every area of my work as a lawyer. In civil cases, since it is our duty as lawyers to first examine the merits of every claim before accepting a case, I must bear in my mind and heart, that liberty and prosperity must be achieved. This follows that if the case clearly warrants an honest direct statement that you better just settle it because your side might be on the losing end, I must do it notwithstanding missing the opportunity of gaining work and money. Indeed, the duty mandated by the Code of Ethics must be practiced and must not be left in the papers dormant. Consequently, by being faithful to this ethical requirement at all times (which I submit would be very difficult for most practitioners) the liberty from an unfounded lawsuit would be really realized and at the same time promoting the prosperity of the stakeholders by saving them from the expenses of lawsuit. On the otherhand, with respect to criminal cases, I would be the guardian of the poor faced by criminal charges who cannot afford the benefits of a real counsel who often do the task merely as a work but not as an advocate. I owe my fidelity to God first and foremost, hence, I will do my best in advocating that the pain of penalty must be carefully thought of and examined before it would be imposed to any individual. Hence, I will assure that their rights will be fully protected within the bounds of the law.

          As an illustration, nowadays, many people were charged by cases related to drugs or the airport related dilemma of the “tanim Bala”. To an extent, some are said to be victims of planting of evidence or false accusations. As a lawyer advocate I would pay extra effort and attention to these victims. Consequently, by acting within the bounds of judicial ethics I would offer myself to represent our poor brethren prejudiced by this kind of societal ill. Indeed, in this way I did not only help liberate our poor fellow from these kinds of idle activities but likewise I would be promoting the fight against corruptions by checking the illegal activities which perhaps involve some of our government officials. In this way I believe that the liberty of our people and the general prosperity of our nation is espoused.

          Consequently, since college I already envisioned myself speaking before the public espousing a worthwhile advocacy. I view myself as a future professor of law. With liberty and prosperity under the rule of law now embedded within my DNA and personal philosophy, I believe that I would be able to spread and share its value to a wider number of people. Moreover, as a professor of law I view this position as a catalyst of change, since as I have mentioned earlier law school serves as the key institution in which future lawyers were molded and trained. Just like how the container shapes the water, our law institutions shapes what kind of future lawyers we would become.

          Often the masses are plundered and do not know it, that is why they need advocates. Hence, as a lawyer I take the task of minimizing the bondage of poverty and hunger by studying, applying and promoting the rule of law. For after all, as in the words of Bastiat, Claude Frederic–“Life, Liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place. – THE LAW (1850).