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Artiaga, J. (2020). “Comment against “No Comment”: Balancing Constitutional Liberties and the Role of the Judiciary in Comments on Cases Pending Before the Court”. Retrieved from

Balisong, P. (2020). “Bridging the Accountability Gap Between the Universal Rights Regime and the Regime of Multilateral Development Financing Institutions”. Retrieved from

Bañaria, G.I. (2020). “Rise of the Machines as Creators: The Ownership Conundrum of Compute Generated Works”. Retrieved from

Blay, J.A. (2020). “Post-Conflict Amnesty Practice Under Contemporary Public International Law and Domestic Law”. Retrieved from

Boado, D.L. (2020). “Balancing Liberty and Prosperity in the Market for Big Data: Towards Enforcing the Right to Personal Data Protection”. Retrieved from

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

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Cortez, A.D. (2020). “A Critique of Lagman v. Executive Secretary: Analyzing the Justiciability of the President’s Power to Declare Martial Law or to Suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus as Regards its Territorial Scope and to Provide Standards Therefor”. Retrieved from

De Belen, C.O. (2020). “Elevating the Status of the Right to Information through the Writ of Scientia Omnibus”. Retrieved from

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

Evora, R.M. (2020). “Delivering to the Poor: Microfinance Policies in Cooperatives in Rural Areas in the Philippines as a Means in Promoting Entrepreneurship and Economic Independence”. Retrieved from

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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

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

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

Mendoza, D. (2020). “The Green Generation: Establishing an Environmental Defense Fund through the Contribution of Mining Companies and Other Extractive Industries”. Retrieved from

Montellano, R. (2020). “Nomad is an Island: A Legal Framework for Nomadic Indigenous People for Cultural Integrity and in Cases of Displacement”. Retrieved from

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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

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Sebastian, MA. (2020). Protecting Liberty and Nurturing Prosperity in the Propertization of Digital Footprint in the Age of Surveillance Capitalism. Retrieved from

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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.

2“Definition Of PROSPERITY”. 2017. Merriam-Webster.Com.

3“Philippines Development Forum”. 2017. Republic Of The Philippines – Department Of Justice.


5Campbell, Charlie. 2016. “5 Ways China Is More Repressive Under President Xi Jinping”. Time.Com.

6Bradley, Anne. 2017. “The Price Of Prosperity In China”. Institute For Faith, Work & Economics.


TALES OF A DREAMER: Revisiting My Stories on Liberty, Prosperity, and Hope

By: Jose Angelo C. Tiglao

De La Salle University


“We all want to change the world for the better. But the person who prayed must be emulated. He said, ‘God, preserve this country, and begin with me.”

– Miriam Defensor-Santiago (2016)

If there is one lesson in life which I kept close to my heart, it would be that if one would dream to change the world, the change must begin with him.

What is the dream? Well, beyond wanting to become a lawyer, I have always wanted to help change and improve our legal system. I want Filipinos to trust our judicial institutions; I want our citizens to feel that it is the rule of law, not the rule of man, that would always prevail; and most importantly, I dream for the time when we all enjoy justice as a right, not as privilege.

But just like what was mentioned by the late senator, the person who prayed must be emulated. As the Lasallian saying goes, “Let us start the change we want to see. The change that begins in me.”

Through this essay, I will share with you three personal stories in my life which opened my eyes to the struggles of the everyday Filipino – stories which opened my eyes as to the idea of protecting our liberties and encouraging prosperity. It is by way of these stories that I hope to picture out to you my dream, for both myself and our country, in light of the Foundation’s philosophy.

Let me begin by sharing with you my story.



Seven years ago, I was a fresh high school graduate looking for a good university where I can take up my pre-law. I was fortunate enough to be given a scholarship by De La Salle University to pursue a degree in Political Science.

My home back then was the College of Liberal Arts – a college that housed students who took up majors in the social sciences and the humanities. Basically, we were coined as the “liberal” college. Please don’t take me the wrong way. When I say “liberal”, I don’t refer to any specific point in the political compass. For us, to be “liberal” was to be free.

Looking back, I served in our student council as the president of the College of Liberal Arts, being ever so passionate about the concept of liberty – about the idea of being free. To be exact, during the Freshmen Orientation in 2013, where I delivered a message to them, I shared with them a short conversation that I had with our Dean, Dr. Julio Teehankee, on my first day on the job as president.

If one is to meet his Dean for the first time, one would normally expect that he would ask those usual questions such as “What is your vision?” or “What is your plan for the student council and for the college?” Surprisingly, those questions weren’t asked. Rather, he asked a very deep question: “What does it mean to be liberal? To be a student of the liberal arts?”

I was struck. I felt like I was in class, unprepared to answer the question of the professor. Pressured, I answered the first thing that came into my head. I answered, “For me, to be liberal is to be free.”

He smiled.

He posed another question, “What does it mean to be free?”. I paused. I honestly did not know what to answer because in my head, all I can think of was, “To be free is… to be free.”

During this moment, I remember how it was obvious in my face that I was struggling to find an answer. This is when my Dean said these very inspiring words: “To be free is to be human – to live without fear and hesitation. That is freedom.”

Liberty. This was the first time I truly grasped the concept of liberty. The state of being free from oppression and injustice; the state of allowing people to be free to make their own choices without others having to breathe down their necks.

New to the concept of liberty, I brought this learning with me during my term as president. I wanted my officers to be free to think of ideas and to cultivate an environment where they are not afraid to make their voices heard. I hoped that the concept of fear and hesitation be replaced with enthusiasm and passion. I did not simply want them to understand what liberty is – I wanted them to experience it.

But how does one experience liberty? To be honest, it was hard for me to picture it out to my officers. How can you make one understand the value of freedom? Thinking of ways to do this, I turned to one of our projects entitled, “Be the Sun”. Started way back in 2012, it was a project where we spearheaded the installation of armchairs in an Alternative Learning Center. Prior to this initiative, the school did not have any arm chairs. The students sat on the floor or used plastic chairs – both of which are not conducive for learning. I thought to myself that if I wanted us to visualize liberty, we must see it, feel it, and live it.

We paid a visit to the school and we prepared an event for the students. We gave out school supplies, prepared food, as well as conducted a program for them. During the program, the principal asked one of the students to give a short message as a way of giving thanks. I remember clearly what he said back then – “Maraming salamat po, lalo na po sa mga upuan kasi ngayon po, makaka-aral na kami ng mabuti.”

How is this relevant to the concept of liberty? Because of our busy lifestyles, our generation tends to forget and disregard the liberties and the opportunities that we currently possess. If not, we totally fail to appreciate that we are lucky enough that we enjoy these kinds of freedom. Come to think of it – the kids in the school and us, the ones who organized the event, should ideally enjoy the same kind of liberty. But is that the case? Obviously not. In the ideal world, my freedom should be the same as his freedom. Unfortunately, this is not the reality.

And it’s not just with one freedom, but with all others such as the freedom of expression, freedom to organize and assemble, and so many other liberties enshrined under the Constitution. While we are all expected to have these rights, the government has consistently failed to uphold these freedoms across the board. I am privileged that I am given the chance to exercise these rights because I was sent to a good school and obtained a great education. I have a voice. But how about those who feel that they are powerless? Oppressed? And most of all, not free?

It is the duty of government to ensure that no matter one’s social and economic status, that person should enjoy the same freedoms as those of another. The eyes of the State should look in favor of the last, the lost, and the least, because these people need help. They need our support. More than pushing them away, their individual liberties should be encouraged, supported, and protected. To be free is to be human… but the opposite is likewise true. Hence, to be human is to be free, and the government should make sure that those who are at the margins of society should be given the chance to live out the state of liberty through their support, and not serve as the antagonists to their tale of freedom.



Let me tell you a story when I attended my first jail decongestion project this year with the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation. We went to the Cavite Provinicial Jail where I was tasked to discuss certain areas on Criminal Procedure, specifically the Modes of Release, to the detainees. I joined this project wanting to get a better glimpse of our prisons and gain a better understanding as to why justice in our country is almost always delayed and unreachable.

While I was giving my talk, I had to respond to various questions by the detainees. It ranged from clarifications to the law all the way to them asking possible scenarios that they may encounter. But the most interesting thing I heard during my talk was not a question, but more of a statement. The woman said, “Sir, salamat po sa inyo, alam na po namin an gaming mga karapatan. Pero ang problema din po kasi namin sir, wala po kaming abogado. Wala po kaming pera. Wala pong handang magtanggol sa amin. Paano po yun?”

I was dumbfounded. I had to go to my supervisor and ask what I should say. At that moment, I wanted to be a member of the Bar and take on their cases. Idealistic right? But, it’s true. I realized that no matter how much I try to explain to them their rights, if no one would be there to defend them, what use would it be? The same is true even to those who are not detained. What use is democracy when there is no development? Is there really justice when there is no employment?

Prosperity – the Foundation believes that this concept must work side by side with liberty, and for good reason. It is not enough for the government to ensure that our rights and freedoms are protected. It is equally important to understand that the rule of law is more than just about what is legal or not, but also what is right and just for the people.

The fact that our justice system is not perfect is undisputed. Dockets are full, trials take a long time, and justice is again, almost always delayed. However, we have to give credit to our judges for giving so much of their time and energy to ensure that fairness is applied in all their decisions. They try, at their very best, to safeguard the liberties of both parties, and to ensure that the truth is what truly prevails.

But is this the only role of judges and lawyers? I don’t think so. The role of the judiciary in the progress of our society is more than just interpreting the law. It is also about contributing to the idea of prosperity by ensuring that the economic rights of its citizens are protected.

Sadly, law school does not teach us this. We are taught how to read, interpret, and use the law. But we are not taught how to actualize the concept of prosperity in real life. No wonder judges find it challenging to decide on cases which heavily impact our economy. They have to balance the need to uphold the law on one hand and the concept of social justice on the other. How should they draw the line between acting as decision makers but also being concerned about the country’s welfare?

It is very difficult to balance the scales of liberty and prosperity; nonetheless, both must go hand in hand. My story involving the detainees is an illustration that our courts, more often than not, must work hard to strike a balance between safeguarding our individual liberties and at the same time, ensuring that the general welfare of our country is protected.



The first question any law student will have to answer is: “Why take up law?” In this third and final tale, let me run you through you my personal journey, the discovery of my “why”, and my dream – all of which will be discussed side by side the Foundation’s philosophy.

When I was a kid, whenever my parents would ask me what I dreamed to be when I grow up, I would always answer that I wanted to be a lawyer. I do not recall a single moment in my life when I replied differently. It has always been the dream.

But the reason why I wanted to become a lawyer came many years later. Back in 2011, I witnessed for the first time on live television, the action-packed impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. I was a nerd when it came to the trial – thinking as if it was a hit television series which I had to watch almost every single day. The excitement brought by the exchanges made by the prosecution, defense, and the senator-judges invigorated me. Then and there, I found my “why” to the question – why take up law?

I saw that the lawyers during the impeachment had a standard set of skills – they were good speakers who knew how to think off their feet. They were quick, witty, and strategic – traits which I think I carry until today. I pictured myself that someday, I could be one of them, part of the elite circle of lawyers who I look up to.

Years have passed and I continued to carry with me that “why”. I entered law school so passionate and wanting to change the world – for the better. But just like anything in this world, my reason why I wanted to become a lawyer started to change. The time I spent in law school opened my eyes that not all lawyers are the same. I saw that our justice system was not perfect. I witnessed the last, the lost, and the least become victims of our corrupt society. I became a spectator to all this sadness. I felt helpless and powerless. For the first time in my life, I felt like I can’t do anything.

It is only when I started my legal aid program when I started to feel different. The first case I ever handled was a habeas corpus petition for our client who was detained due to mistaken identity. At the outset, my interaction with the client was very limited. I was tasked to do research, file pleadings, and participate in brainstorming sessions with the team. During these times, I saw the law as a game of chess, one where whoever had the best strategy wins. I won’t pretend to be a saint and say I disliked the feeling of winning – no, in fact, I wanted to win because that is how I saw the lawyers who I looked up to when I was young. They were winners.

But this kind of thinking, that lawyers are supposed to be great speakers, critical thinkers, brilliant strategists, and competitive people – these changed when I met our client. My perspective of the law turned into a different light when I saw our client in the court room, hands cuffed together, and with his face, full of sadness. What made the experience an eye opener for me was that he was in the courtroom with more than a dozen other detainees, all of whom are sad, lonely, and most of all, hopeless.

It is only when our team, led by our supervising attorney, stared talking to him that he smiled. His smile was priceless. For the first time in my life, I never thought how just my mere presence meant something to someone. How I did not have to do anything just for someone to smile. Let it not be forgotten that I am a complete stranger to this man. We have never met. But he smiled, and we went to court – battled it out, together.

Looking back, I remember asking my supervising lawyer afterwards why he smiled. He answered, “Because you gave him hope. When no one was there, we came. In his eyes, we are hope.”

Liberty and Prosperity – these two values are necessarily intertwined just like how my life was intertwined with that of our client. As an incoming senior and a future lawyer, I want to keep these values close to my heart, serving as the reasons why I continue to fight for my dream. I want to work for government – the judiciary specifically, because I see the struggles of our judges wanting to give justice to all of the parties but are greatly disempowered due to the lack of resources and support from the two other branches of government. I dream to be a lawyer who is ignited by passion to give back to those who are at the margins of our society, and at the same time, hopefully to give justice and to seek the truth in all cases. It doesn’t matter to me whether I’m still a student – the journey begins now because the fight has already started, and I want to be there from now on.

To be their bringer of hope – that is the dream, the passion, and the idea.

For the first time in many years, I found a better reason why I am here and why I wanted to practice law in the first place. It was always to give back to the last, the lost, and the least. My seven years of Lasallian education has truly taught me well because it helped me realize that my dreams are not meant to be just mine alone. Dreams are meant to be shared, and that is why I want to share my own dream of becoming a lawyer to them – to those who need me to be their hope, no matter what the odds.

I am beyond humbled for the time the committee has given in evaluating my application. I will forever be in debt for having been provided the opportunity to share my story to you. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you.