By: Angelette C. Bulacan
Far Eastern University
“Legal profession is a noble vocation”, the first description law students associate to lawyering, the idealism inculcated in young dreamers, and the guiding light continuously flickering throughout the time. Like two sides of a coin, legal profession is counter depicted as a means by which only the rich are catered; he who has money has justice.
But what is noble, and for whom is justice? Whichever is true between the discordant descriptions of what legal profession really means depends on the people that compose the legal system. In the end, their congregate actions, principles, and stance become the embodiment of what legal profession stands for. This is where the lifetime challenge of bringing into surface the nobility of legal profession is set before any lawyer or jurist. Despite the change of political climate or head of the hierarchy, uproar of the masses, fading trust in the system, one must continue to look forward, struggle if need be, so that one day we resurrect and maintain what legal profession really is all about and the effects it should have in the society.
The core philosophy: Safeguarding the liberty of people and also nurture their prosperity under the rule of law of Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity is a key component of what nobility of legal profession entails. It must mean, the drive to be a lawyer with a purpose, a jurist with a vision, with the end result of sending positive impact in the public. It means, the legal profession must pursue a holistic triumph by upholding both liberty and prosperity in the country. By the words of Artemio 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 philosophy’s language made use of encompassing words, Liberty and Prosperity as its core; thereby letting every legal mind to freely concoct their own interpretations where people should have liberty from, and what areas should people strive to prosper. This in turn allows a diversity of purposes, visions, and fights which hopefully reach most, if not all, the issues that damper on people’s rights and society’s growth. In sum, Nobility in the legal realm, entails being a catalyst of our own perspective of Liberty and Prosperity.
From personal standpoint, lawyers, jurists, and all other people in the legal profession are faced with the challenge of liberating people from their inner barriers that subjects them to vulnerability as victims and social waste. The legal community is called to lead our country’s prosperity by being the instrument that helps Filipinos’ self-worth, and love for the country prosper. This is with the end goal of finally breaking the chain of apathy over the sovereign that paralyzes the Republic’s glory.
LIBERTY FROM IGNORANCE, HELPLESSNESS, AND STAGNATION. When can we say that people are enjoying liberty? Is it when they have the freedom to do what they want within the constricts of the law and morality? Seemingly, this kind of freedom is what defines liberty in general. However, in the context of holistic liberty where people enjoy their rights to the fullest, we Filipinos, are far from being liberated. Liberty in this sense is when people know who they are, what they can do, and cannot do; it is when people are freed from the shackles of ignorance, empowered by their rights and held accountable by their duties.
What we are currently experiencing is only the facade of the kind of liberty we should be savoring. Only when people are enabled not only to make choices, but free informed choices, and when Filipinos can not only demand service, but also responsibility and accountability, can we say Filipinos are free. There are still a lot of Filipinos fettered by ignorance of their own rights, of public servants’ duties, of the difference between genuine public service against public service disguise, of accountability, and of the true measure of allegiance to the country. By constantly being in the dark, people developed and eventually treated full reliance in the government as the rule. By constantly knowing too little, even bits of aid from government is glorified. By constantly relying on the current knowledge, awareness has become so rare that it’s treated as a privilege than as a right. By constantly living in this cycle, ignorance has been normalized. By constantly not doing anything to break free from this inner barriers, Filipinos started to forget what we deserve. Worst, this ignorance brings along vulnerability.
Status quo clearly illustrates the depravity caused by unawareness and its consequential vulnerability. Most Filipinos illegally arrested, had their home’s illegally searched, had their life taken away from them without due process, are part of the poor masses whose knowledge of their rights are vague. Of these victims of injustice, who among them truly clamored? For these people, did the sovereign uproar? Sadly, only whispers that eventually died out were uttered. We cannot expect people to fight if they don’t know that they have rights to fight for. We cannot expect people to seek remorse when they don’t even know how. Even in ordinary daily life, a person’s right is violated without him knowing. Would people normally know their right to exact change? Would housekeepers know their Social Security System and Phil Health entitlements? This ignorance also paves way to abuse and corruption. Public officials, by merely sponsoring feast, dance balls or giving away reliefs, are already seen as upholding their duty. People only assess the façade shown to them as they do not have a concrete idea of what public servants ought to do. Filipinos settle to what they get, despite not knowing what they should be getting. The paucity of knowledge leads, and continuously leads people to remain helpless. And this helplessness fosters a culture of mediocrity and fear of the authority. By not knowing, people cannot enforce their rights, conversely, people, businesses, and public officials who escape from their legal duties are left free. By not knowing, people tend to deprive others of what is due to them, like the LGBT community, they are oppressed because people are unaware that they also share the same human rights as any ordinary person. This ignorance subjects people to vulnerability and allows oppression to develop amongst the people.
Knowing is power as it serves as a precursor of other rights, and the exercise thereof. The legal community, being well-educated in the basic rights, the rights prone to abuse and how they can be protected, is the best catalyst in liberating Filipinos from this long-winded ignorance. Lawyers’ service to the people does not start when a predicament arise, it starts even before the problems ensue. It’s the legal profession’s task to help prevent the abuse of basic rights by educating people of their rights and how to exercise the same. It continues beyond the four corners of the court. It’s not only vindicating the victim’s right from abuse, but helping ensure that no other person suffer the same by spreading awareness and keeping in mind that Justice is not only manifested by redress, but also when people are enabled to enjoy their basic rights. The legal profession should also be the frontrunner in disseminating the truth, in establishing which versions are more in accord with the rule of law, and in which side should the scale of justice tilt. This is especially important in this time where perversion of truth and wildfire of lies are corrupting the populace. It is during this time that the legal community should channel the rule of law as a means of protection rather than persecution. A lawyer’s job description includes the task of liberating the country and its sovereign, written in invisible ink.
PROSPERITY IN PATRIOTISM and PRINCIPLE. When do people prosper? Where should people seek prosperity? And why must people prosper? In the age where a line divides the Filipinos, it’s high time that we reintroduce and highlight that what Filipinos should fight for is not which color is right and which color is wrong, but rather, we should stand under the mantle of our Flag, united in colors, devoted to the Republic.
Not only are we to strive for prosperity in our standards of living, but we must seek and make people seek prosperity in their own values, principles, and love for the country. As we currently stand, these are the values slowly overshadowed by the wave of idolism, selfishness, greed, and dependence. People pledge loyalty to people; strives ensue between supporters of people; actions taken are for some people. People forget that no administration is perpetually in power; that people seated in the government should be working for the country and not the opposite. Fights have become so shallow that people even forget what they’re fighting for or if they even have something to fight for. This divide can be healed by reopening the eyes of Filipinos and redirecting them to what they should really be passionate about, the Philippines. Not a person, not a group, but a country and its sovereign.
Patriotism is an important value in which Filipinos should strive to prosper, as this is also the precursor of our country’s genuine prosperity. Patriotism indicates the unity of its people toward a common goal; it can cure the current malady our country is suffering from, division. It heightens our sense of responsibility not only upon ourselves but also to others. A patriot Filipino would look beyond what the person in position can offer to him, but what can that person offer to the country, its people, and its next generation yet unborn. He would get more involved and seek accountability from persons in position, as the transient power the latter yield inflicts no fear to a person who’s more concerned on the effects of corruption and ill-deeds that would transcend our generation. He is not easily blinded by false promises and pretenses, as he already figures, that their empty words only fill their pockets, and that their empty words would only leave the country in shambles.
To ensure our country’s prosperity, the legal profession is called to help bring back patriotism. Lawyers, in line with their sworn duty of maintaining allegiance to the Philippines, support the Constitution and obey the laws, must be the epitome of patriotic citizen and embodiment of the principle of justice. Lawyers and jurists must live by example and ensure that in the practice of the legal profession, there is a constant reminder of what is just and for whom they are fighting. They must ensure that they practice in accord with the rule of law, and the rationales behind their inception. Lawyers, must not only love, but also manifest their love for the country. Being engraved with the power to influence, the legal community is entrusted to lead the Filipinos back to what Filipinos really are, patriotic. The legal profession’s tacit duty goes beyond self-check, it extends to the duty of inculcating and bringing back the love for Inang Bayan in every Filipinos. It’s the profession’s task to reawaken the proud Filipino values currently in slumber within each of us. By unveiling the injustices and illegalities practiced by the persons in position, and by not being swayed by greed of money and power, the legal community can bring the trust back in the system and show the Filipinos that no transgressions to the country can be countenanced as our enemy is not people of different sides, but people of greed who robs the country. By leading the movement towards an honest system that runs in accord with the rule of law that is established for this country’s people not for the few, the legal community will be able to demonstrate the importance of prioritizing the need of Filipinos as a whole, and division would amount to nothing but aid the hiding of unscrupulous deeds. In the end, through the legal community, we be able to show that the scales of justice tilts for no one but the country and its sovereign. And Filipinos should do the same, act for oneself and for the nation. To embody the Filipinos our forefathers fought for, we must bring back the allegiance of the people from the government to the Republic.
INTERDEPENCE OF LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY. Change in a country starts with its people, and for the people to be enabled to bring forth a wide scale transformation, they must not only be freed from ignorance but also from the shackles of indifference. To bring back the richness of the Philippines, the people that comprises it must be able to stand for themselves, capable of free and informed choices, with blood boiling for the country. An informed citizen’s patriotism is easier to be rekindled than one who is ignorant, as knowledge would allow that person to see things as they are and not as how the government wants us to see. Knowing what’s happening, what one’s rights are, leads to questions, answers and discoveries of what one should really stand for. Knowing allows people to reawaken their patriotism in slumber. Conversely, even when a Filipino is able to prosper in his sense of patriotism, his burning love for the country would only bring flicker to the torch of change; without awareness of what the real problems are, of what the Filipinos are really entitled to, such burning love would only allow him to shout and clamor but not effectively act and communicate. One without the other would not evince the transformation we seek to have. For Filipinos to bring a light of change, every Filipino must be empowered by awareness and love for the country because what makes a country progressive is its people, the government is only an instrument through which the voice of the people is realized.
As a future lawyer, the first step I shall take is ensure that I continue to liberate myself from any shed of ignorance and make sure that I practice my profession in accord with justice, rule of law, and for the country. By equipping myself with these necessities, I can proceed in spreading change. I envision to liberate people from ignorance by being involve in works and organizations prioritizing information dissemination. Currently, I co-founded Human and Environmental Rights Organization of our university, as an avenue of protecting human rights especially in light with the status quo’s diminishing respect for people’s rights through bringing awareness to communities. As a starting organization, we first seek to train ourselves on how we can transform our ideals into actions by partnering with other human rights organizations. And in the future, I seek to work in the government where I can reach more people, especially the sector that needs more help and continue my involvement in various organizations. What is more challenging is how I can evince the patriotism to others. It is not an easy task, but as of now, there’s a way I know of on how I can spread patriotism, by teaching. The same way I am inspired and enlightened by my professors to devote oneself for the country, I also aspire to inspire the future generation of the legal community to keep the fire burning for the country. And I believe, this creates a domino effect that would eventually reach a lot of Filipinos.
My aspiration does not end in being able to join the rank of lawyers, I also aim to become an effective catalyst of my own perspective of liberty and prosperity, with the end view that one day we may be able to wake up where Filipinos are freed from apathy and “Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan at Makabansa” are once again embodied by the sovereign.