Welcome Remarks

By: retired Supreme Court Justice ANGELINA SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ

*Delivered during the Awards Ceremony conducted by the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity founded and chaired by Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban in recognition of Legal Scholars, Winners in the Dissertation Writing Contest, and Esmel Fellows held at the Stephen Fuller Hall of the Asian Institute of Management, Makati City, on July 28, 2023.*


Honorable Alexander G. Gesmundo
Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines

Honorable Artemio V. Panganiban
Founder and Chairman of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity

Honorable Amy C. Lazaro Javier
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

Honorable Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe
Former Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and
current Trustee of the Foundation

Honorable Alex Quiroz
Retired Sandiganbayan Justice
Chairperson of Governance Commission for GOCC

Mr. Armando Tetangco, Jr.
Former Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and
Trustee of the Foundation, now Chair of the SM Investments Corporation

The Foundation’s valued sponsors:

The Tan Yan Kee Foundation

The Ayala Corporation

The Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and the
Metro Pacific Investments Foundation

The Board of Judges

The Foundation’s other Trustees:

Secretary Edilberto C. De Jesus
Atty. Joel Emerson J. Gregorio
Madam Marilen P. Yaptangco
Professor Ma. Theresa P. Manalac
Atty. Arvin Paolo D. Cortez and
Mrs. Rebecca Felix
the Foundation’s Treasurer

The Outstanding Awardees


Ladies and Gentlemen,

A pleasant good afternoon for your gracious presence. The Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity salutes you.

On behalf of the Foundation, it is my distinct honor and privilege to welcome you all to this momentous and meaningful event, the recognition by no less than the Honorable Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo of the new batch of scholars of the Foundation’s Legal Scholarship Program, the winners of its Dissertation Writing Contest, and the new Fellows of its ESMEL Program.

Several decades ago or in 2011, after his retirement from the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Panganiban had the vision of promoting his philosophy of safeguarding liberty and nurturing prosperity of the Filipino people. Such vision led to his creation of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity to implement his philosophy.

The Foundation, in partnership with the Tan Yan Kee Foundation, the Ayala Corporation, the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, and the Metro Pacific Investments Foundation, implemented again this year its Legal Scholarship Program, its Dissertation Writing Contest, and its ESMEL Fellowships.

Under the Legal Scholarship Program, twenty-one (21) scholars were chosen by the Board of Judges who will each receive ₱200,000 to finance their tuition, books, and monthly stipends.

There are five winners in the Dissertation Writing Contest chosen by the Board of Judges. The first placer will receive ₱320,000, the second ₱220,000, and the third three (3) placers will receive ₱120,000 each.

Five graduate students pursuing Master’s Degree in entrepreneurship, sustainability, management, economics and/or business law, considered by the Board of Judges highly qualified, emerged as ESMEL Fellows.

In this regard, Chief Justice Panganiban believes that the best way to conquer poverty, to create wealth and to share prosperity is to unleash the entrepreneurial genius of people, by granting them the freedom and the tools to help themselves in society. It is the Foundation which aims to hand them such assistance through the ESMEL Scholarship Program.

Our hearty and warm congratulations to the AWARDEES and profound gratitude to the Foundation’s Partners. Your magnanimity is a continuing blessing to the Foundation. Truly, its appreciation for your assistance goes beyond “thank you.”

And of course, thanks endlessly, Chief Justice Panganiban, for initiating these benevolent Projects. Needless to state, you are the essence of compassion and kindness. Indeed, you stand tall as a human being of unique qualities, the most profound of which is your genuine concern for the legal profession, the entrepreneurship, and more important for the less privileged in our society. I must say in the firmament of benevolent men, you are a fixed star.

At this point, may I remind the Awardees that more important to your Awards is your commitment to Chief Justice Panganiban’s philosophy of “Safeguarding the Liberty and Nurturing the Prosperity of the Filipino people.” Thus, the Foundation and its creator will await your words and action when the time comes.

Congratulations again to the Awardees and infinite thanks to the Foundation’s magnanimous partners!

Thanks sincerely too to the Trustees. You are all in one in supporting the Foundation’s novel projects.

Once more, welcome to this Ceremony!



*Message of Chief Justice ALEXANDER G. GESMUNDO during the Award Ceremony of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity held on July 28, 2023 at the Stephen Fuller Hall of the Asian Institute of Management, Makati City.*


Retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Foundation of Liberty and Prosperity (FLP); Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier, Chairperson of Dissertation Writing Contest; Judicial Integrity Board Vice Chairperson Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, FLP Governance Committee Chairperson; Retired Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe, FLP Board of Trustees Member; other esteemed members of the FLP Board of Trustees and Officers; members of the Board of Judges for the Legal Scholarship Program and for the Dissertation Writing Contest; distinguished guests; dear friends; ladies and gentlemen—good evening.

First off, allow me to congratulate our Esmel Fellowship Program Fellows; the Winners and Finalists of the Dissertation Writing Contest; our graduates with Latin Honors; and of course, our third-year and fourth-year scholars under the Legal Scholarship Program. I have been able to attend the FLP’s annual awards ceremony twice before—and I remember that on both occasions, the event had to be held via Zoom. I am glad that on my third time, I finally get to meet our awardees, as well as our partners and sponsors, in person instead of just online. As you may know, at the height of the pandemic, the Supreme Court turned to such technologies to ensure that our courts will keep working even during the strictest lockdowns. But for occasions like this, I have to say, nothing beats the real thing. The passion, the inspiration, the energy all simply feel more palpable when we get to be together like this.

The honor of being here to speak before you all tonight is truly mine. We in the judiciary are happy to see that the brightest and most passionate young legal and entrepreneurial minds of our nation are committed to and eager to work towards the common vision that brings us all here: the vision of a country that safeguards the liberty of its people and nurtures their prosperity under the rule of law.

This vision is premised on an understanding that, contrary to misconceptions, the curtailment of liberty is not the price of prosperity. Instead of being separate or even mutually exclusive goals, they are symbiotic; they are “twin beacons,” as the FLP’s founder retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban put it, that we must strive towards. These twin beacons have formed the core judicial philosophy of Chief Justice Art; their propagation has been, as he described it, his personal crusade during his time with the Court. But he did not stop there. Even in retirement, he pressed on with this advocacy. Using his retirement pay, he founded the FLP in 2011, and, with the help of partners, soon started work on its initial projects.

I remember in 2021, during a book launch on his 85th birthday, I talked about how Chief Justice Art has mastered the Art of Relevance well after his retirement—remaining as incisive and as lucid as he was when he was writing ponencias, his voice even more resonant now that he writes for a wider audience and with wider freedom than he did when sitting in the Court. But perhaps even more remarkable than that is how, at a time of his life when most would choose to sit back, relax, and reap the rewards of an illustrious career, Chief Justice Art only remained tireless in his continuing crusade for liberty and prosperity.

Today he continues to inspire us and remind us: that justice and jobs, freedom and food, ethics and economics, democracy and development—all these must go together, for one is useless without the other. The question we are faced with, then, is not a choice of one against the other—but instead of how hard we are willing to work in pursuit of both.

This is why we are also happy to see that in its second decade—from 2021 to 2031—the FLP, after having primarily concentrated on the liberty side of its philosophy, is expanding its reach into the prosperity side of the equation. Part of this, I understand, is the Esmel Fellowship we awarded tonight; we are also anticipating the implementation of the FLP’s “ultimate” projects for liberty and prosperity, including the establishment of the Center for Liberty and Prosperity and the Entrepreneurship Fund aiming to help the poor liberate themselves from poverty through private initiative. We look forward to the success of these projects; after all, in the spirit of a common saying, the proof of a philosophy is in lived reality. There is perhaps no stronger argument for the intertwined nature of liberty and prosperity—and the need for their common pursuit—than to see it in action through programs such as these, and the many other initiatives of the FLP.

We count on all our awardees here tonight to help make sure that these initiatives will truly bring tangible benefits for our people. After all, tonight is more than a reminder that hard work is rewarded; it is a call to work even harder in service of something larger than yourselves. It is an affirmation of your commitment to put our country’s welfare over your own personal interests; and, in accepting this honor, a commitment to continue affirming and advancing our intertwined aspirations of liberty and prosperity for all, wherever you are and however you can—whether as budding legal scholars, aspiring entrepreneurs, or exemplary law students and future lawyers.

Magistrates, of course, must be impartial. But on this note, I must confess that our Legal Scholars hold a special place in my heart, having served as Chairperson of the Board of Judges for this year’s search. Let me tell you: choosing from so many outstanding students from the best law schools across the country was no easy task. But I was truly fortunate to share the burden of this endeavor with the members of our Board, whom I wholeheartedly thank: Former Secretary of Education Dr. Edilberto de Jesus, Tan Yan Kee Foundation Head of Corporate Communications Ms. Evelyn Doris Abao, Philippine Association of Law Schools Chairperson Dean Soledad Deriquito-Mawis, and FLP Corporate Secretary Atty. Joel Emerson Gregorio.

As they would tell you, the competition was tough. As in past years, the selection process was difficult. But it was always clear to us what kind of scholars we were looking for. We gauged not just what prospective scholars have achieved, but what greater heights they can reach. We looked for more than intelligence and academic excellence; while important on their own, these, to be meaningful, must also come with an ability to see far beyond the particulars of any given case and understand how decisions impact not just the parties involved, but our country and its trajectory as well. We looked for character and integrity. For courage, rectitude, and fortitude. For honesty, incorruptibility, and fidelity to the highest standards of ethics and morality. We looked, in short, for students who understood what it means and had what it takes to safeguard our rights and liberties to guarantee our country’s prosperity.

But it also goes beyond serving as the Chair of your Board of Judges. You hold a special place in my heart because you are our next generation of legal minds. You are the future of our profession. In a few short years, you will become full-fledged practitioners; down the line, some of you may even decide to join the Bench—and the judiciary plays such an important role in turning this shared vision of ours into tangible reality. Perhaps its work in safeguarding liberty is more pronounced, but equally important is its role in enabling our country’s progress. While seemingly more passive, the judiciary, through its decisions, is just as responsible as the executive and legislative branches of government for the development of our country. As I have said before: by striking a consistent balance between individual rights and freedoms and legitimate government interests, we create a stable environment for economic growth. And when we nurture sustainable and inclusive growth, we widen the realization of rights and strengthen their protection. The Supreme Court and the entire judiciary remain steadfast in our commitment to perform this task as best we can, in accord with our constitutional mandate and our laws.

We also eagerly look forward to what you—and all our awardees—will contribute, in your own ways, to this endeavor. Remember: all this, at times, might sound abstract and academic, but nothing can be further from the truth. When we talk of liberty and prosperity, we talk of food on the table. Of children being able to go to school. Of enterprise being allowed to flourish, and uplift others with it. Of Filipinos from all walks of life being able to live in security and with dignity.

Seen this way, the stakes are undeniably high and the work undeniably daunting. But have no fear: it is work you will not have to do alone. I understand that later tonight you will take your oaths as members of the FLP Scholars Society; which is to say you will join a community of like-minded and like-hearted individuals who are as determined and as committed as you in advancing our nation’s liberty and prosperity. In doing so, I hope you find a deeper font of strength and inspiration and a wider avenue for collaboration towards the aspirations and ideals that brought you together. I hope you support and amplify each other’s work to help bring us closer to the nation we envision: a nation that safeguards the liberty to prosper and guarantees a prosperity of rights and freedoms for all.

Again, to our fellows, winners, awardees, and scholars: congratulations, and we wish you all the best in your endeavors. To our sponsors from the Ayala Corporation, the Tan Yan Kee Foundation, and the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, we extend our gratitude for being steadfast partners not just in nurturing and supporting the best young minds of our nation, but also in our collective pursuit of liberty and prosperity. To the boards of judges for the dissertation writing contest and the Esmel Fellowships, led, respectively, by Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier and Retired BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., our thanks as well for generously giving your time and effort for this endeavor.

And of course, to Chief Justice Art Panganiban, whose clarity of vision guides this entire undertaking, you have our heartfelt gratitude—as well as that of generations of Filipinos who, we earnestly hope, will truly and fully enjoy, now and in the future, the fruits of liberty and prosperity.

Thank you, and good evening.

From an Imbedded Legal Lore to a Practical Reality

By: retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN

*Remarks of retired Chief Justice ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN during the Award Ceremony of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity held on July 28, 2023 at the Stephen Fuller Hall of the Asian Institute of Management, Makati City.*


Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening.

On behalf of the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity, let me profusely and sincerely thank Mr. Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo for his keynote address, for chairing the Board of Judges of our Legal Scholarship Program and for his untiring effort to help us attain our avowed mission, activities, and projects. Let me also thank our partners and funders, the Tan Yan Kee Foundation represented by Kyle Tan, the brilliant grandson of Dr. Lucio C. Tan who is abroad now; the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation represented by its Director and Corporate Secretary, Atty. Ricardo Pilares III, in lieu of MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan who is attending a vital function of Maynilad Water Services, Inc., an MPIC subsidiary; and the Ayala Corporation represented by the esteemed Fernando Zobel de Ayala; he would have been joined by his brother, the charismatic Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala if he were not abroad. Let me also acknowledge the eminent Alfred Ty and his lovely wife Cherry Ty, representing the Metrobank Foundation, FLP’s partner in its Professorial Chairs Program; and the learned Msgr. Gerry Santos who graciously delivered the invocation. I consider Monsi Gerry my ‘Nak and he calls me ‘Tay and my late wife, ‘Nay.

So, too, I express my everlasting appreciation to the boards of judges, especially the three chairs. I am referring to the talented and amiable Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier; to the multi-awarded retired Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and newly elected Chairman of SM Investments Corporation, the only publicly-listed company in our country that has attained a market capitalization exceeding one trillion – repeat, trillion – pesos, and – I am proud to say – a treasured member of the FLP Board of Trustees, the Honorable Amando M. Tetangco Jr; and, as I already said, Chief Justice Gesmundo.

Let me also say, maraming salamat po to our special guests. especially Atty. Felipe L. Gozon, Chairman and CEO of GMA Network. When I was still an incumbent in the Supreme Court, I invited Henry, who was, and still is, one of the best law practitioners of our country, to join the Court, but he preferred to stay as the GMA boss and made it unquestionably the largest TV-radio conglomerate in the Philippines. I am honored to say that he invited me to sit as an Independent Director of GMA for 16 years now since I graduated from the highest court of the land in 2006. I see also World Bank executives Dandan Chen and Dave Llorito who were handpicked to attend our Awards Ceremony by their big boss Ndiame Diop, who is abroad. I am pleased to say that over the last one dozen years, I have sat as a member of the World Bank Advisory Council.

I also invited the irrepressible Injap Sia, the Chairman and CEO of Double Dragon Properties Corporation and MerryMart Consumer Corporation. Though he declined attendance due to a prior commitment, he instead sent an unsolicited donation of P888,000! Palakpakan po natin si Injap.

I likewise thank my dear friend, Marixi Rufino Prieto, whose family owns the Philippine Daily Inquirer, for donating the three-fourths page colored FLP ad that appeared in her newspaper today. Of course, I also acknowledge the attendance of some of my incumbent and retired colleagues in the Supreme Court and the other courts of our nation.

Now, let me officially felicitate our 21 new scholars,10 dissertation winners and 5 ESMEL fellows. I will no longer name you because you have already been introduced one by one.

Let me just share with you and our guests some bits of wisdom, borne of my experience, study, and observation during my almost 87 years of existence on earth. When you were in grade school and high school, you aimed to finish college with Latin honors, or as valedictorians, or as most outstanding students. Let me add that you also wanted and succeeded in securing FLP scholarships or fellowships or won the top prizes in the FLP dissertation writing contest. Now, you desire to top bar exams. I certainly expect you to do so and thereby keep the tradition started by our first batch of scholars led by our poster boy, Atty. Sean James Borja, Ateneo’s valedictorian and numero uno in the 2018 bar exam.

Later, you will want to practice the legal profession, or to become top corporate executives, or to be rich as private entrepreneurs. And thereafter, to marry the girl or boy of your dreams, to have children, to raise them as good citizens and to guide them as they climb the education ladder as you had done. Well, modesty aside, I have been there and done that. I tell you it’s wonderful.

Indeed, life is a strange interplay of light and shadows, victories and defeats, successes and failures, exultations and frustrations. Amid these zigzags, we must keep on trying, keep on aiming, keep on fighting, keep on aspiring higher and higher. We never say “no more,” never say “never again.” We always remember that when a door closes, a much larger window opens.

Like you, I have had successes and defeats, oppressions and suppressions, wins and losses. After graduating with honors from high school, I was granted a scholarship at UP that I could not enjoy – to my utter frustration – because the door to excellent education was closed by the inability of my impoverished family to afford the then measly 15 centavo ride to Diliman, Quezon City. Thus, I enrolled at nearby FEU where most fortunately, a large window was opened when I met my life-long mentor, law dean Jovito R. Salonga. With the inspiration of another FEU mentor, Dr. Alejandro R. Roces, I became an active student leader, was elected the youngest President of the FEU Central Student Organization, founded and headed the National Union of Students, graduated cum laude and copped the 6th place in the bar exams. Though granted a full scholarship including board and lodging to pursue graduate studies at Yale University, I could not enter the door to higher education in that ivy league school because the US Embassy refused me a visa due to my student activism. However, with the closing of this door, a wider window of hard knock education opened.

To cut the long story short, let me move fast forward. I never expected President Fidel V. Ramos – who electorally defeated my mentor, Dr. Salonga – to appoint me as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Neither did I expect President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to name me Chief Justice. Nonetheless, while in the Court, I buried myself in work as a virtual hermit shunning social interaction, even large family events. I produced over 1,200 fully signed decisions during my over 11 years as a magistrate, while writing one book a year and chairing the most number of Supreme Court committees, thereby humbly earning, though unworthy, a unanimous Resolution of my colleagues, naming me the “The Renaissance Jurist of the 21st Century,” and citing me, without my participation and vote, as “the Court’s most prolific writer, bar none.” The Court’s unanimous Resolution also lauded my term, again though unworthy, for “demonstrating (my) core judicial philosophy of safeguarding the liberty and nurturing the prosperity of our people, thereby imbedding this philosophy in the nation’s legal lore…”

My retirement was the signal that I should rest and enjoy my ancient age in the comfort of my home, travelling the world with my family and friends, tilling a modest farm in Tagaytay, dancing the waltz, boogie and swing with my lovely wife (who, sadly, passed away three months ago), and playing my favorite games of tennis and golf.

However, I was bored with an idyllic life. At age 75, five years after my retirement, I was inspired by the musical “Ageless Passion” composed by National Artist Ryan Cayabyab, to transform my philosophy from being merely an imbedded “legal lore” into a practical and throbbing reality, outside the intellectual realm of lawyers into the world of hard knocks and grinding poverty by organizing the FLP. Initially, I seeded the Foundation with two million pesos, but thereafter, the many companies and foundations where I became a director or adviser of, contributed more than P50 million to enable FLP to purchase its 700 square-meter head office in a condominium in Salcedo Village, Makati. Moreover, they donated another P50 million (and counting) to sponsor the continuing educational projects we are celebrating tonight.

I was, and still am, buoyed up by their financial support, and the unparalleled help of prominent friends who agreed to sit in our board of trustees and/or to help in operating and managing the FLP.

And tonight, during this momentous Awards Ceremony, allow me to take up very briefly what I call the two “ultimate projects” of the Foundation. They are, first, the building of a Center for Liberty and Prosperity in Metro Manila (and later, a much larger one in or around the new Manila International Airport in Bulacan) where, in partnership with the Supreme Court, an interactive, immersive, and AI-powered Museum for Liberty and Prosperity will be housed. It will be interactive and immersive in the sense that the visitor will not merely be viewing historical relics but will be immersing into them with the use of modern technology. As an example, visitors can be transported or immersed inside a virtual Session Hall of the Supreme Court where they can see and hear oral arguments, ask oral questions, and give stimulating comments.

It will be AI-powered in the sense that visitors can speak with robots mimicking justices, filled with info about their decisions, speeches, and bio data. As an example, visitors can ask or interact with justice-bots about their opinions, legal philosophy, and career. The plans for the Center and the Museum are being finalized by an FLP Task Force headed by the esteemed newly retired Senior Justice and FLP Trustee Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe.

The second ultimate project is the establishment of a multi-billion peso “Prosperity Fund” – to be created with tax-free donations of the local business community and international developmental agencies – to nurture, grow and help make profitable and bankable micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs. The Fund will be nonprofit, but financially viable and sustainable. We believe in unleashing the entrepreneurial ingenuity of our people as the key to eliminating extreme poverty in our country. The plans for this project are being worked out by an FLP Task Force headed by the respected FLP Trustee Amando M. Tetangco Jr.

To put our money where our mouth is, I donated to FLP last year a major asset of my family – a residential lot in Paseo de Magallanes in Makati, worth over 100 million pesos – to be liquified at the appropriate time. The cash proceeds will be used as seed money for these two ultimate projects. Moreover, even without seeing the final plans of the Task Forces, several friends have already contributed 23 million pesos to support them. The FLP dedicates the first project to the talented and the second to the poor.

By fulfilling our vow to help the poor help themselves through viable and sustainable private enterprises, we do not merely perform a civic duty to satisfy our human empathy but more so, we obey our Lord’s command, “Whatever you do for the least of my brethren, you do unto me.” (Matt 25:40) Indeed, these programs will help “the least, the lost and the last.”

I am determined that before I pass from this world to the Great Beyond, these two precious projects will become realities as our humble legacies to show that our philosophy is not merely an “imbedded legal lore” but a real-life practicality that can demonstrate the intertwining relationship between law and economics, and between freedom and food. Freedom must be of the mind and of the stomach. And food must be of the intellect and of the gut. Liberty and prosperity must always be together. One is useless without the other. Maraming salamat po.

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.