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How the SC can advance the principles of Liberty and Prosperity

On May 12, 2018, newly-appointed professorial chair holder Dean Gemy Lito L. Festin of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines College of Law delivered his very first lecture titled “Tutelary Rules Principle’ as Legal Tool for Easing Economic Rights’ Access to Justice in the Philippines”. For finally bringing the FLP philosophy into the PUP limelight, Dean Festin garnered positive reactions and accolades from students and faculty alike.

Dean Festin’s lecture revolved around the present condition of access to justice concerning the enforceability of Constitutionally-guaranteed economic rights in the Philippine legal system. According to him, for the longest time, the legal debate concerning rule of law has been focused on safeguarding the people’s liberty rights with a consequent implication of placing economic rights in the backburner. While the Philippine legal system has given preference on civil and political rights over economic rights rightfully so, he argued that this present bifurcation of rights should not be the case considering the interdependence principle governing the treatment of these two sets of rights.

Reactions on Dean Festin’s points were then offered by two special guests: Makati Regional Trial Court Branch 66 Presiding Judge Joselito C. Villarosa and Deputy Director for Special Projects of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines National Center for Legal Aid Atty. Rosalie J. dela Cruz-Cada.

According to Judge Villarosa, “the total liberation of the people entails not merely giving them freedom of movement or freedom from arbitrary detention. In order to liberate the people, there is need to also focus on their economic needs. The economic well-being of the people is enshrined under various international instruments of which the Philippine state is a signatory.” He then emphasized that while there are already laws for this purpose, yet the “Philippines is still reluctant in affording these economic rights the status of an enforceable right, thereby denying them of their access to justice concerning these same rights.”

On the other hand, Atty. dela-Cruz-Cada agreed with Dean Festin on his proposal for the tutelary rules to be utilized in the enforcement of economic right. She argued that these rules “will help particularly the disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and people living in poverty to finallyrealize,ifnotincrease,enjoymentofeconomic rights.” However, corruption in government is the main reason, she stressed, why existing rules are weakly implemented. Her comment, thus, resonates with Judge Villarosa’s reaction.

The Chief Justice Panganiban Professorial Chairs on Liberty and Prosperity is currently on its 6th year, and is co-sponsored by the Metrobank Foundation. It is also supported by the Philippine Association of Law Schoools (PALS) and the home universities of the professorial chair holders.

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