A Fruitful Past Decade and a Hope-filled New Decade

By: retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

*Closing Remarks of retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN during the online Awards Ceremony of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity on August 11, 2022.*


Your Honors, the Chief Justice and other justices of the Supreme Court and the three appellate courts, incumbent and retired, other high government officials, Your Excellencies of the diplomatic corps and of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, members of the three FLP boards of judges, our partners and friends, deans and professors, our awardees and their families, members of the FLPSS, my fellow FLP trustees, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

I am pleased that our Awards Program has gone well, despite occasional digital glitches. My regret though is that we have not been able to meet face-to-face, not only now but also during the past two years due to the rampaging COVID-19 infections. Originally, we were hoping for a face-to-face convocation this year. In fact, we already reserved the meeting facilities of the Asian Institute of Management which were kindly made available to us by its much-admired President and Dean Jikyeong Kang. However, two weeks ago, we shifted to this online mode because we were concerned about the new, very transmissible Omicron variants that have surreptitiously entered our shores. Nonetheless, we have not allowed this unfortunate happenstance to dilute the joy of this occasion which, as I said, has gone exceedingly well.

Now, let me first acknowledge and extend our appreciation to Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo for his gratifying keynote address and for his chairmanship of the Board of Judges of our Legal Scholarship Program. He and the other judges – who have been named earlier – spent an enormous amount of time scrutinizing the credentials of our applicants and asking interesting and relevant questions during a three-hour long interview. I deeply appreciate CJ Gesmundo for beautifully summing up what we, in the FLP believe in, and by “we” I respectfully include him. Let me quote him, “By safeguarding the rights and freedoms of the individual, the judiciary allows our country to prosper, and in nurturing economic prosperity, rights will also be securely protected. Indeed, it is a symbiotic relationship, safeguarding rights go hand in hand with nurturing prosperity.” So well said, Your Honor.

Let me also thank the competent and prudent Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando and the members of the Board of Judges for our Dissertation Writing Contest for their Herculean effort in reading, evaluating and discussing the various dissertations submitted for their review after they were passed upon and vetted by the FLP Screening Committee.

Let me also show our appreciation to our Board of Judges of the new Esmel Fellowships chaired by the multi-awarded and the first and only two-term former governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Amando M. Tetangco Jr. who, I am honored to say, is also a member of our FLP Board of Trustees. As you now know, the Esmel fellowships are worth a whooping P450,000 each. They signal the FLP’s determination to promote the prosperity side of its philosophy.

FLP believes that the best way to nurture prosperity is to help our people help themselves through private entrepreneurship. Along this belief, FLP – apart from these fellowships – is also encouraging our business schools to offer courses to combine business, law and technology. Toward this goal, I have had sessions with Dr. Kang, AIM President and Dean and her dedicated team of two full-time AIM faculty members, Professors Olivier Roche and Felipe Calderon. Her team has been working during the last eight months to produce a curriculum for the degree of Master in International Business Law (MIBL) starting this coming school year.

I got the idea of proposing this MIBL program from the graduate study and experience of our grandson Miguel Panganiban Sandejas who – after finishing his MBA, magna cum laude, major in entrepreneurship, at the famous Babson College in Boston – proceeded to take up and finish a Master of Science in Law degree or MSL also with honors at the pedigreed Northwestern University in Chicago. The wonder of it is that, prior to taking up MSL, he did not enroll in, much less graduate from, any basic law course whether in the Philippines or in the US or anywhere else. Of course, he cannot practice law in the Philippines and cannot even be allowed to take the local bar examination which requires a four-year law degree as a prerequisite. I understand, however, that he could take the bar exam in some US states even without a bachelor’s degree in law. However, Mig told me he has no intention at the present of taking the bar exam or of practicing law anywhere. He is fully satisfied in just finishing his MSL, because, to quote him:

“I discovered that knowledge of the law definitely rounded out my business thinking. Not only does the law tell you what you cannot do, but it tells you how far you can go. In this way, a businessperson can act with confidence and sail forward without fear. In the world of finance and taxes, the law helps guide the numbers and provides another solution for optimizing income, reducing expenses and protecting shareholders. It provides a solid foundation and reason for all actions.”

It is with this background and knowledge that I thought entrepreneurs should be armed not just with the usual business subjects but also with law backgrounders, particularly on obligations and contracts plus esoteric subjects like patents, trademarks, data privacy, property rights and statutory construction.

It is my hope that the other leading graduate schools of management like Ateneo, La Salle, UP, UST, etc. will follow suit. And we, in the FLP, would be more than willing to work with them and to include their students in our yearly Esmel fellowship competitions.

Let me now segue to thank the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) and the Metro Pacific Investments Foundation led by business wizard Manuel V. Pangilinan for immediately and without any hesitation agreeing to be our partner in the Esmel fellowships. Its CFO and spark plug, Chaye Cabal-Revilla, and its Chief Legal Counsel, bar topper Ricardo “Jun” Pilares III, responded by instantly processing our proposal and drafting a Memorandum of Agreement. As a measure of good corporate governance, may I disclose that I am an Independent Director of MPIC?

Let me also profusely thank the Tan Yan Kee Foundation led by Dr. Lucio C. Tan for unstintingly funding our Legal Scholarship Program during the last six years – even during the harsh business environment of the last three years caused by the COVID pandemic. What is more, the TYKF even funded more than the 20 scholars agreed upon by happily solving the tie for the 10th place by adding one more third year slot thereby increasing our annual scholarships to 21. Indeed, maraming salamat po, Dr. Tan and the TYK Foundation. We are of course more than gratified that, aside from graduating with Latin honors or their equivalent, our scholars always land among the topnotchers of the yearly bar exams administered by the Supreme Court.

Permit me likewise to thank the Ayala Corporation led by the esteemed Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala for being our partner during the last five years in our Dissertation Writing Contest which has produced excellent papers from law students on the subjects of liberty, prosperity and the rule of law. Starting next year, we will expand the contest to include students taking the Esmel graduate courses.

Our deep appreciation goes likewise to Dr. Tony Tan Caktiong and Mr. Injap Sia for jointly donating to FLP a condo at the Hotel 101 in Taguig City. We hope to earn enough income from this condo to help poor students under our Panganiban Education Assistance Program.

At this point, may I explain that our Professorial Chairs Program co-sponsored by the Metrobank Foundation had been suspended and continuous to be suspended till it would be safe to restart face-to-face encounters? Several of our chair holders have expressed readiness to lecture at any time the program is resumed.

Finally, I thank the gutsy Justice Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez, my Supreme Court colleague for many years and now Acting FLP President and President of the Association of Retired Supreme Court Justices for her heartwarming Opening Remarks and for crediting me more than I deserve because the acclaim for FLP belongs to all of us here present, not just to me.

To close this address, may I sum up that during the first decade of its existence (2011-2021), the FLP concentrated on its liberty programs? But during its second decade, 2021-2031, it will include programs to promote the prosperity side of its philosophy starting with the Esmel fellowships. FLP’s ultimate project for the liberty side is a Center for Liberty and Prosperity where an interactive and immersive Museum for Liberty and Prosperity would be constructed in partnership with the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, its ultimate project for the prosperity side is what we call the “Entrepreneurship Fund” of at least one billion pesos with the aim of investing in and helping manage micro, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with the active assistance of our Esmel fellows. Relevantly, I wish to acknowledge the help of the former president of BPI and of the Bankers Association of the Philippines Cezar Consing in studying pro bono the viability and sustainability of this project. This is essential to FLP’s basic belief that the key to prosperity is to help people help themselves through private entrepreneurship.

Please help us pray for the attainment and success of these two giant ultimate projects. Thank you.



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Bulacan, A. (2020). “Lèse-Majesté by the Sovereign’s Own Instrumentality: The Government’s Violations of the Supreme Law in the Non-enforcement of the Philippine Entitlements in the West Philippine Sea”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/89481-2-bulacan-flp_dissertation.pdf

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Endaluz, G. (2020). “Home Court Advantage: Establishing a Framework for the Responsibility of a State with Respect to Human Rights Violations Committed by its Corporate Nationals Abroad”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/375ff-4-endaluz-dissertation.pdf

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Frias, H.H. (2020). “The Role of Private Justice: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the Promotion and Protection of Liberty and Prosperity Under the Rule of Law”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/b1d55-the-role-of-private-justice-final.pdf

Gutierrez, P. (2020). “Judicial Activism or Judicial Restraint: The Justiciability of Unilateral Acts of States in the Context of Duterte’s Declarations Toward the South China Sea Dispute”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ba78f-2-gutierrez-dissertion.pdf

Lumbera, B.T. (2020). “The liberty to locate and the Threat of Crime: A Critical Discourse and Systematic Review of the Impact of Crime on Property Values”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/lumbera-flp-dissertation-entry-2019.pdf

Manjares, J.M. (2020). “There’s Death and There’s Online Death: Exploring Digital Assets as a Legal Concept for the Transmissibility of a Decedent’s (Digital) Assets to His Heirs”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/5ff81-flp-dissertation-writing-contest-entry-manjares-.pdf

Mendoza, D. (2020). “The Green Generation: Establishing an Environmental Defense Fund through the Contribution of Mining Companies and Other Extractive Industries”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/3f8b8-daphne-mendoza_dissertation.pdf

Montellano, R. (2020). “Nomad is an Island: A Legal Framework for Nomadic Indigenous People for Cultural Integrity and in Cases of Displacement”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/0b10d-5-montellano-dissertation.pdf

Napoles, J.A. (2020). “Leadership Quality Reconsideration: Strengthening the Vanguards of Liberty and Prosperity through the Impositions of Academic Qualifications on National Elective Officials”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/d47d3-flp-thesis-revised-leadership-quality-reconsideration.pdf

Odulio, J.T. (2020). “Weeding out the Fake Grassroots: Expanding the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 to include Online Astroturfing as an Offense”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ff621-for-flp-dissertation-contest-entry-of-joben-mariz-odulio.pdf

Pangalangan, R.A. (2018). Enforcing Liberty and Prosperity through the Courts of Law: A Shift in Legal Thought from Juridification to Judicialization. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/flp-dissertation-contest-first-place.pdf

Quiño, R. (2020). “Not of Legal Age but of Legal Mind: Enacting a Law that shall integrate the Principles and Provisions of the UNCRC and Domestic Laws Promoting Child Protection as well as to integrate crime prevention, criminal justice and other rule-of-law aspects into the school curricula at all levels, whether public or private, including in barangay daycare, preschool, basic education and out-of-school youth”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/29b72-6-quino-dissertation.pdf

Quising, J.S. (2020). “Liberty and Prosperity for Future Generations: Intergenerational Equity as Customary International Law”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/quising-flp-dissertation-entry-2019.pdf

Sawali, C.A. (2020). “A Rights-Based Approach to Environmental Protection: The Balance between Police Power and Livelihood Rights”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/sawali-flp-dissertation-entry-2019.pdf

Sebastian, MA. (2020). Protecting Liberty and Nurturing Prosperity in the Propertization of Digital Footprint in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/0c539-7-sebastian-mat-dissertation.pdf

Sebastian, ML. (2020). “Establishing a Binding and Obligatory Framework for the Protection of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Accordance with the State’s International Law Obligations”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/21820-4-sebastian-ml-dissertation.pdf

Tamargo, V. (2020). “Liberty and Prosperity in the Coming Age of the Commercialization and Industrialization of the Moon and Her Riches: The Common Heritage of Humankind”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/dddff-8-tamargo_flp_dissertation-entry.pdf

Tan, T.P. (2018). Liberty and Prosperity in the Digital Age: Determining the Proper Treatment of Online Intermediaries in Light of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/flp-dissertation-contest-second-place.pdf

Villanueva, M.E. (2020). “Beyond the Minimum: Justiciability of the Question of the Right to a Living Wage in the Philippines”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/90367-villanueva-flp-dissertation-entry.pdf

Villaroman, C. (2020). “Enforcing Liberty and Prosperity through Tax Reform: Synchronization of Taxation Laws with the Philippine Development Plan as Instrument of Social Justice”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/ce4ea-9-villaroman-dissertation.pdf


Abot, L.F. (2017). Liberty, Prosperity, and the Rule of Law: Reflections on the Lawyer’s Vocation. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/liberty-prosperity-and-the-rule-of-law-reflections-on-the-lawyers-vocation-1/

Abratique, B.R. (2019). Everyone Dreams: Everyday Humans, Everyday Heroes and Everyday Lawyers. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/everyone-dreams-everyday-humans-everyday-heroes-and-everyday-lawyers/

Alarios, P. (2019). The Law Student / Lost Student:  Understanding Liberty and Prosperity Under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/the-law-student-lost-student-understanding-liberty-and-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law/

Almerino, J.F. (2017). The Pillars Stood Like Dominoes: Liberty and Prosperity Under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/the-pillars-stood-like-dominoes-liberty-and-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law/

Badua, K.A. (2017). Safeguarding Liberty and Nurturing Prosperity under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/safeguarding-liberty-and-nurturing-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law-2/

Barredo, P.A. (2018). SETTING THE WORLD ON FIRE: Lawyers as Advocates of Liberty and Prosperity. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/setting-the-world-on-fire-lawyers-as-advocates-of-liberty-and-prosperity/

Borja, S.B. (2016). Advocacy and the Art of Small Steps. Retrieved from  https://libpros.com/2016/12/06/advocacy-and-the-art-of-small-steps/

Bulacan, A.C. (2018). Break Apathy’s chain over the Sovereign. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/break-apathys-chain-over-the-sovereign/

Carpio, M.S. (2018). LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY: ROAD TO ACHIEVING ONE’S DREAMS. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/liberty-and-prosperity-road-to-achieving-ones-dreams/

Castillo, K.M. (2016). My Gateway to Becoming Superman and Bill Gates. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2016/12/05/my-gateway-to-becoming-superman-and-bill-gates/

Cornelio, P. (2019). UPLIFTING OTHERS BY UPLIFTING MYSELF: In Pursuit of Liberty and Prosperity. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/uplifting-others-by-uplifting-myself-in-pursuit-of-liberty-and-prosperity/

Cortez, A.D. (2017). OUR CHALLENGE TODAY. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/10/our-challenge-today/

Dela Cruz, W.P. (2019). Liberty and Prosperity through Education and the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/liberty-and-prosperity-through-education-and-the-rule-of-law/

Domingo, S.B. (2018). An Interlink between Liberty, Prosperity, and Rule of Law with the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/an-interlink-between-liberty-prosperity-and-rule-of-law-with-the-criminal-justice-system/

Dumelod, R. (2019). Checking My Privilege: The Indivisibility of Liberty and Prosperity. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/checking-my-privilege-the-indivisibility-of-liberty-and-prosperity/

Dy, E.H. (2016). Liberty from Arbitrariness and Prosperity from Judicial Stability under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2016/12/06/liberty-from-arbitrariness-and-prosperity-from-judicial-stability-under-the-rule-of-law/

Evora, R.M. (2016). Safeguarding Liberty and Nurturing Prosperity under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2016/12/05/safeguarding-liberty-and-nurturing-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law/

Fomaneg, F.K. (2019). Liberty and Prosperity. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/liberty-and-prosperity/

Ganchero, K.S. (2016). Making the ocean less salty: An advocacy for a more civilized public discourse. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2016/12/06/making-the-ocean-less-salty-an-advocacy-for-a-more-civilized-public-discourse/

Gaw, K.C. (2017). Permeating Peripheries and Bridging Worlds: Merging Economic Growth and Social Development Through the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/permeating-peripheries-and-bridging-worlds-merging-economic-growth-and-social-development-through-the-rule-of-law/

Guinto, M.C. (2018). Safeguarding Liberty and Nurturing Prosperity under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/safeguarding-liberty-and-nurturing-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law-3/

Gutierrez, P.M. (2018). Inclusivity as an Embodiment of True Prosperity. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/inclusivity-as-an-embodiment-of-true-prosperity/

Hilario, J.B. (2016). Safeguarding of Liberty and Nurturing of Prosperity Under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2016/12/06/safeguarding-of-liberty-and-nurturing-of-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law/

Ilao, M.E. (2017). ONE HEART AT A TIME: SOWING SEEDS OF LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/one-heart-at-a-time-sowing-seeds-of-liberty-and-prosperity/

ITS ROAD TO LIBERTY. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/unveiling-the-free-market-system-its-road-to-liberty/

Macalino, R.S. (2019). What do you understand by the philosophy of liberty and prosperity under the rule of law? Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/what-do-you-understand-by-the-philosophy-of-liberty-and-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law/

Malabad, A. (2018). ROAD TO PROSPERITY: THE FISHERMAN’S FISHING ROD, FISHING NET AND FISHING BOAT. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/road-to-prosperity-the-fishermans-fishing-rod-fishing-net-and-fishing-boat/

Manuel, K.L. (2017). The Abstract and Unrealistic Concept of the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/the-abstract-and-unrealistic-concept-of-the-rule-of-law/

Mappang, J.B. (2019). UNLEASH THE FISHERMAN WITHIN. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/unleash-the-fisherman-within/

Mata, G.M. (2019). Wealth in Nations: On Liberty and Prosperity under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/wealth-in-nations-on-liberty-and-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law/

Matsumura, M.G. (2018). An Assessment on Liberty and Prosperity Under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/an-assessment-on-liberty-and-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law/

Najarro, V.M. (2016). Rule of Law as the King. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2016/12/06/rule-of-law-as-the-king/

Negado, C.T. (2019). Education as a Driving Force of Liberty and Prosperity. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/education-as-a-driving-force-of-liberty-and-prosperity/

Obaob, L.M. (2019). Redefining Freedom: Liberty and Prosperity Under the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/redefining-freedom-liberty-and-prosperity-under-the-rule-of-law/

Obra, J.A. (2018). Insight, Inspiration and Instrument. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/insight-inspiration-and-instrument/

Pascua, D.M. (2016). Consent and Liberty of the Governed under the rule of law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2016/12/06/consent-and-liberty-of-the-governed-under-the-rule-of-law/

Pedernal, M.V. (2016). Safeguarding Liberty and nurturing Prosperity under the imperative of the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2019/04/02/safeguarding-liberty-and-nurturing-prosperity-under-the-imperative-of-the-rule-of-law/

Perez, C.D. (2018). The Tools that Build a Great Nation. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/the-tools-that-build-a-great-nation/

Perez, K. (2017). Guiding Roadmap of an Aspiring Lawyer: What Can Be Done Today, In the Future. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/guiding-roadmap-of-an-aspiring-lawyer-what-can-be-done-today-in-the-future/

Quising, J.F. (2017). “Breaking the Barriers of Society and Holding the Fort of Law for Liberty and Prosperity”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/breaking-the-barriers-of-society-and-holding-the-fort-of-law-for-liberty-and-prosperity/

Ramirez, E.V. (2018). “The right to pursue happiness.”. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/the-right-to-pursue-happiness/

Reago, N.O. (2017). Realigning with the Essentials: The Fundamental Duties in the Legal Profession. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/realigning-with-the-essentials-the-fundamental-duties-in-the-legal-profession/

Rojas, J.H. (2017). Leaving a Trail Towards Liberty and Prosperity for the Filipinos. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/leaving-a-trail-towards-liberty-and-prosperity-for-the-filipinos/

Salvacion, J.V. (2017). RULE OF LAW: The Way & The Light. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/rule-of-law-the-way-the-light/

Soriano, G.A. (2019). The Hoist of Justice: Elevating Prosperity with the Weight of Liberty. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/the-hoist-of-justice-elevating-prosperity-with-the-weight-of-liberty/

Tan, T.P. (2016). To the Random Law Student Studying in the Corner. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2016/12/05/to-the-random-law-student-studying-in-the-corner/

Tiglao, J.C. (2017). TALES OF A DREAMER: Revisiting My Stories on Liberty, Prosperity, and Hope. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/tales-of-a-dreamer-revisiting-my-stories-on-liberty-prosperity-and-hope/

Vergara, A.A. (2017). Liberty and Prosperity – The Puzzle Pieces to the Rule of Law. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/liberty-and-prosperity-the-puzzle-pieces-to-the-rule-of-law/

Vergara, V.S. (2016). The Power and the Limitation of Law in the Pursuit of Liberty and Prosperity. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2016/12/06/the-power-and-the-limitation-of-law-in-the-pursuit-of-liberty-and-prosperity/

Villarico, M.M. (2017). Liberty and Prosperity towards a People-Centered Approach. Retrieved from https://libpros.com/2021/03/11/liberty-and-prosperity-towards-a-people-centered-approach/


Liberty and Prosperity towards a People-Centered Approach

By: Ma. Vida Malaya M. Villarico

Polytechnic University of the Philippines


Changing places has been one way to see hidden things in the world.1

Liberty and prosperity are universal concepts. Both are grand narratives in their own right encompassing philosophical borders. But universalities are not ends themselves. In a social context, the concepts of liberty and prosperity evolve depending on the platform one stands in, on the lens one sees through, on the position one stands for. We live in a society with deep-rooted injustices interwoven in different dimensions of our identity not only in the economic structures but also in the political dynamics, cultural facets and social relations. Liberty and prosperity are universalities that should be merged with a people-centered orientation. To put oneself in the situation of the poor, marginalized, deprived and disenfranchised and aspire to make society better for the people.

I believe that the rule of law holds the unwavering position in times of unrest. When all are unsettled, institutions shaken and liberties threatened, it is the strengthening of the rule of law that provides for an unshakeable ground to move forward. But the law must also have the people at its heart. It should not be studied in an ivory tower void of action. Rather, it must touch the ground to see everyday realities.

In the perspective of the poor is liberty felt in the gut? How does prosperity trickle to those surviving by the day? How do we sharpen the law to safeguard our hard fought liberties and the scales of justice to tilt on the side of the marginalized? These are questions and realities confronting us. Truthfully I believe there is no easy way to answer these questions. The concepts overlap because of their close interrelation; and the complexity brings in the impossibility to discuss the ideas in isolation with one another. The law must bridge the spaces between the clouds and the grassroots. Sometimes when the poor has been so used to being poor, neglected and deprived it is so hard for them to see a world beyond their battle for survival. For them, aspirations for liberty and prosperity would seem a foreign endeavor when their day-to-day life is focused on putting a meal on the table. It is in this context that the law must also be a source of empowerment. It must uphold one’s entitlement to basic freedoms as a common unit to our shared humanity. By embracing the concept of human dignity that we find the strength to hold on to our rights, to protect its sanctity and assert it with utmost vigor.

The idea of prosperity encompasses both institutional and individual efforts. It is a common goal that requires unity of action from different sectors of the society. Development must not only be confined to statistics but must adopt a human face and embody the actual lives of people. Poverty is not just an idea. It cuts the deepest in many portions of our people’s lives. Our humble nation has been plagued with aggravated poverty that has claimed the lives of the best of its sons and daughters. The law must have a perspective to improve the quality of life of the disadvantaged. The freedoms and liberties people enjoy are positive reinforcements for them to take a hold of their lives, for indeed, ‘the real wealth of the nation is its people and the purpose of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives.’2

As an aspiring member of the legal profession, it is my dream to serve the most basic sectors of our society as a human rights lawyer. I will use the principles of liberty and prosperity to widen the arena for legal discourse and movement towards an increased awareness on the plight of the poor, marginalized, neglected and deprived. It has been my life’s pursuit to contribute my profession to a greater purpose. That is why I truly advocate for people empowerment and a developmental approach in interpreting the role of law, justice and liberty in the lives of the people.

When I was in college because of our curriculum’s development and integration program, I was exposed to political realities outside the classroom setting. We were integrated to poor communities to study the lives of the poor, own their lives as ours and live their struggles. We were required to go on exposure trips to poor and vulnerable sectors both in the urban areas and the outskirts in the countryside. Ultimately on my final year, I was required to spend two whole semesters in the field in a rural community. These experiences gave me a different perspective on poverty, inequality and injustice and how the poor perceive the law. One of my vivid memories was conversing with a farm worker while he teaches me to plant root crops. I told them that I plan on studying law and maybe one day I could help them in any way. He said that he has been farming all his life, his parents before him, and still not know what the law does for him. What he knows is that his everyday life revolves on tilling the land. Up to this day, his answer echoes in my mind especially now that I am a student of the law. This was also my motivation in joining the legal aid office in our law school. The institutionalization of legal aid service is the embodiment of the concrete contribution in providing access to justice of poor and indigent clients. It is also an opportunity for students like me to envision a career in legal aid and in service. I learned in our barangay extension programs that it takes a lot of difference knowing that there are legal aid clinics available in communities, which could not afford the services of a lawyer. Seminars and legal consultations provided to the poor empower them to know their rights and basic legal remedies to their predicament. It is my advocacy to bring the access to the law a little closer to the poor, make them more visible in our legal system and amplify their voices that has long been unheard.

I am very passionate to the cause of human rights as a field because of the fundamental role it plays to individual lives, collective relationships and institutional guarantees. It is unfortunate that ideas against human rights still found its way in the middle of academic discussions. Disintegrating the concept of rights to humanity is a dangerous precedent especially for those people in the lower social strata. It is always the poor who suffer the most when rights are endangered. It is always the poor who do not have enough mechanisms to protect themselves on injustices perpetuated. In the advent of social justice, the principles of liberty and prosperity are facing greater heights. The law is neither a messiah nor a universal panacea for all social ills of society. Rather it has evolved into a collective consciousness for social order. That is why the law must be used with a sense of duty to uplift the lives of our people, to secure their dignity and ensure equal opportunity in their access to justice.

Now more than ever that the rule of law must stand firm to safeguard well-defined rights of our people. The twin concepts of liberty and prosperity are not merely found in the realm of ideas but are already actualized truths. Such are not only positioned as theoretical foundations, but mechanisms in the very practical domains of every day life. Liberty and prosperity must be foundations of just institutions and at the same time guiding principles of an idea of justice that is realizable.

I believe that liberty and prosperity are living concepts constantly evolving in practice. And as a student of the law and aspiring member of the legal profession, I want to espouse a kind of practice with the people at the center. The struggle of the poor is not theirs alone. A certain collectivity binds us to be one with them in their struggle. And that is where I want to position the law, not in an ivory tower, but in our linked hands, I our shared dream, in a united vision.

In safeguarding liberty and nurturing prosperity, the rule of law must step up in the protection of our democratic institutions. The centerpiece of our democracy is the people and ensuring that the balance of power serves the stability of the nation. In times of political confusion, it is the law that provides clarity and delineates arbitrariness from legitimate sources of power. Justice is not just a question of distribution but also an idea of social change. The rule of law is a beacon of hope that amidst societal turbulence, its existence is a shield protecting the interest of the people.


1Sen, A. (2009). The Idea of Justice. The Belknap Press: Massachussetts.

2UNDP (1990). Human Development Report 1990. New York: Oxford University Press.

Liberty and Prosperity – The Puzzle Pieces to the Rule of Law

By: Althea A. Vergara

University of San Carlos


          The philosophy of the Foundation is the safeguarding of liberty and nurturing of prosperity under the rule of law. To be able to comprehend this philosophy, allow me to break down the statement.

Safeguarding of liberty

          The common notion is, liberty is about being able to do just about anything, but that is not what liberty actually means. Liberty is the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s behaviour or political views1. In simpler terms, it is being able to do what one wants in a community subject to reasonable limitations by the State.

          In an ideal world, there is a balance between what an individual desires and what the State ought to regulate. There is an understanding. A clear line is drawn between the two sides. No conflicts arise. Each side has the prudence to objectively analyse what the other wants.

          Sadly, the real world, as how it is now, is an entirely different spectrum. The free continuously ridicules governmental actions and the State constantly imposes its authoritative powers, even in democratic states. Take our history, for example. Since time immemorial, the Filipino people have always fought for their liberty, probably much harder than other civilizations colonized by foreigners. We have fought for so long to achieve the liberty we desire that sometimes we forget the limitations with which this freedom is conditioned upon. Until now, Filipinos are still crying out for liberty. The very reason for this is that the State does not usually heed the clamor of the people.

          As the modern era is constantly embracing changes, ideals of the populace also change. Actions that were otherwise just mere ideologies a few decades ago are now being considered as norms. An example is the liberation of women. In the past, women were considered a second-rate class, only capable of doing house work and not even entitled to vote. The Philippines was even considered advance in terms of women rights’ movement since women were allowed to vote as early as 1937. Now, feminism is a social norm.

          Another example is the liberation of the lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) community. Once upon a time, they were closeted because society refused to accept the uniqueness that they offered to the world. Now, they are openly fighting for rights of their own and have opened the world to a different kind of norm.

          The way I see it, this is a good thing. This is the very essence of liberty – the fight must never be stopped. Whatever desires the people think they deserve to get must be voiced out. The worst that could happen is that the State does not do anything about, but that is just it. Merely voicing out creates an impact on society, no matter the variation in perspectives. It would create a domino effect wherein people would start to think of new ideas and gradually accept them as norms.

          If the people remain nonchalant and content with the state of things, liberty could very well be deprived of them, not in a sudden way, but in a gradual manner, the people not even aware of what is slowly being wrested from them. This could pose a danger to the guarantees of freedom which arise from a democratic state. The authority could just pose restrictions in the guise of a general welfare act or an exercise of its police power. Hence, there is the need to safeguard liberty.

Nurturing of prosperity

          Prosperity is defined as the condition of being successful or thriving2. It is economic well-being which is usually expressed in monetary terms. More often than not, prosperity is what defines success, especially in first-world countries. They are considered prosperous because of their financial status.

          It is without question that states seek to be prosperous. In the modern times, prosperity means that the inhabitants of the state are not impoverished such that those receiving minimum wage are able to provide for a modest lifestyle for themselves and their family. It also means the availability and effectivity of the basic governmental services such as health and education. A prosperous state can well provide for the needs of the people without the latter having to shell out too much funds from their own pockets. With these parameters, prosperity is more or less achieved.

          To fast track prosperity in a certain state, as some would believe, it would require more control by those in authority. It would mean the strict regulation of business enterprises, the imposition of higher taxes, and the elimination of certain liberties that would otherwise hinder actions for development. There would be less regard for the individual and more for the greater welfare of the people. For instance, acts of the state that are prejudicial to a certain group of people, say an indigenous community, would be accepted as valid on account of such acts being for the benefit of more people. If this be put to action, more liberties – freedom of expression being on top of the list – of the people would be at a precipice.

          In the past years, the Philippines has responded well to globalization. There has been an economic growth in the country which is evinced by the increase in foreign trade and investment. With the technological advancement, more jobs are being offered by telecommunication companies and BPOs.

          However, it cannot be denied that the country still faces its major problem – poverty. More Filipinos seek for jobs abroad. Health care is unreasonably expensive. A daily wage earner does not have enough to support his family. Prices of basic commodities are high. People from provinces come to cities in the hopes of a better life. These are just some of the well-known problems that each Filipino faces each day.

          The question now is how prosperity is achieved. If it is so easy, then there should not be any country at this time which is not prosperous. There should not be any third-world countries anymore.

          Despite the developments we are experiencing, there is still much to do in order for our country to really achieve the kind of progress we need. Prosperity does not happen overnight; it would take years, decades even. It needs to be worked for and given much attention, not just by the State, but most especially by the people. Hence, there is the need to nurture prosperity.

The philosophy of liberty and prosperity under the rule of law

          One might think that liberty, the entitlement to freedom, and prosperity, the control of freedom, are two pieces of two different puzzle sets, that both pieces are never meant to form just one puzzle. That is not the case. In fact, they are the very pieces that would form the perfect puzzle. Although, though they are just two pieces, having to fit them together is a very complicated task as they have the most intricate cuts. It would need more than one person to put the puzzle together; it would need teamwork and planning.

          Here are two seemingly conflicting philosophies that must be the guiding principle of the rule of law. One is the state of being free and one is the state of economic well-being. The former gives due regard for the people’s individuality while the latter, for the people as a whole. Despite the supposed contradiction, the two philosophies can very well be harmonized under the rule of law.

          The rule of law, as defined by the Department of Justice3, is ―a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.‖ It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency4. Rule of law is simply the principle of the State and the people in the conduct of its affairs.

          I believe that the philosophies of liberty and prosperity are indispensable to the rule of law. A rule of law without either one would not be well-defined; it would not conform to the essentials of a democratic state, especially one that is developing in the modern time.

          True prosperity is not determined merely in monetary terms. It is also determined by the liberation that is given to the people as the source of governmental power. The barrier between financial wealth and moral value is stricken down.

          To illustrate, there are some countries that entitle their citizens to liberty, and yet fail to prosper economically. Also, there are those that are very financially well-off, but are lacking in entitling the people to their freedom.

         An example of a prosperous state is the People’s Republic of China. In the past few decades, China has indeed grown. It now has one of the largest economies in the world and is even known as a global superpower. However, there is a great price that the Chinese people have to pay for its economic growth, and that is the curtailment of some of their liberties. In an article by Charlie Campbell for the Time5, it was stated that the 2016 report of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) noted ―a broader corrosion of freedoms, encompassing a social and political reinforcement of the supremacy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) under Xi’s leadership, with deleterious consequences for civil society, media freedom, labor rights and judicial due process.‖

          As applied to China, there is a price to pay for an economic well-being, and that is the curtailment of liberty of the people. In an article by Dr. Anne Bradley6, she discussed the requirements of a free society, some of which are the well-defined and well-protected property rights, nimble prices, the ability to buy and sell according to our needs, and the rule of law. She discussed the migration problem in China. Parents leave their children in order to seek for greater pasture in large cities. As a result of their parents’ absence, several children in a remote province committed suicide. Dr. Bradley said in her article:

―In a Communist system, there is no notion of the individual. There can’t be — the individual seeks to serve the state and lives in a dismal moral abyss as a result. So when four children who lived in the most tragic of circumstances commit suicide, the response is finger-pointing by party leaders.

Transitioning from this type of system to one where individual life is protected and celebrated and where we can all thrive and flourish is a tough one. The biblical values of dignity, uniqueness in gifts, trading of gifts, and through that serving others and bringing about greater levels of flourishing – these are the keys to success‖7.

          The rule of law defines us as a nation. To achieve greatness, our rule of law must abide by the philosophies of liberty, for the individual, and prosperity, for the populace. Each one, not just the Congress, nor the President, nor the Supreme Court, but each Filipino, must hold the scales even. When the scales start to tip in favor of the other, we must all be vigilant enough to hold it in place.

          We need not revise our Constitution nor promulgate more laws to keep the balance of liberty and prosperity. What we need is empathy for the current issues the country is facing. What we need is due regard for what is right in our daily dealings with our fellowmen. What we need are people in public service who uphold justice, honesty and selflessness. A rule of law, no matter how liberty and prosperity is incorporated therein, is just a mere ideology if the people themselves do not act by it.

          As a fourth year law student, I can promote the philosophies of liberty by not being apathetic to the happenings in our country. I can be bold enough to voice out what I think is right given the circumstances. I can tell my friends and acquaintances what it means to be free to express yourself, but promoting the circulation of factual and reliable sources of news. In the modern age, it is important for the young people to know that there are limitations to posting news and opinions on social media sites. Although they are given freedom to post anything they want, they must do so conscientiously given the audience that may be reached online.

          I can promote the philosophy of prosperity. As soon as I finish my law studies and will be venturing into the world as part of the workforce of the nation, I intend to embrace a discipline of putting in hard work for a decent pay. Aiming for excellence in doing even the smallest bit of my job and striving to be a good influence for friends and workmates is the kind of work ethic I want to live with.

          Being into legal studies, I earnestly desire that I will be blessed with the opportunity to go into government service. For me, it is the government that can offer the best venues for hard core legal work. It offers the opportunity to apply the philosophies of liberty and prosperity under the rule of law. I can go into investigation, trial work, corruption prevention or maybe environment protection. The work is unlimited and all-encompassing. It does seem overwhelming but truly inspiring. I believe this career path will be fulfilling for me knowing that I am doing something for the community. The cliché line law students usually say on their first day is that they want to make a difference. As I am now on my last year of law school, I intend to make a reality of this cliché and start making my difference now.


1“Liberty – Definition Of Liberty In English | Oxford Dictionaries”. 2017. Oxford Dictionaries | English. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/liberty.

2“Definition Of PROSPERITY”. 2017. Merriam-Webster.Com. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prosperity?utm_campaign=sd&utm_medium=serp&utm_source=jsonld.

3“Philippines Development Forum”. 2017. Republic Of The Philippines – Department Of Justice. https://www.doj.gov.ph/philippine-development-forum.html.


5Campbell, Charlie. 2016. “5 Ways China Is More Repressive Under President Xi Jinping”. Time.Com. http://time.com/4519160/china-xi-jinping-cecc-human-rights-rule-of-law/.

6Bradley, Anne. 2017. “The Price Of Prosperity In China”. Institute For Faith, Work & Economics. https://tifwe.org/the-price-of-prosperity-in-china/.