By Jel Santos
Former Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay has called on all lawyers to uphold and defend the rule of law and help promote human dignity.
He issued the call when he was conferred the “Dayaw Iti Amianan” award by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines(IBP)-Northern Luzon recently.
“I believed then, and I believe more strongly now, that the purpose of law is to ensure that each individual is given the opportunities to prosper within a just and democratic society.
The true measure of a working democracy is in the value it places on the rights of its citizens – including his right to dignity and to improve himself,” he said in his acceptance speech on November 30 at Pulsar Hotel in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.
Binay reiterated that lawyers must respect and adhere to the rule of law, saying without such “there will be no order or stability, only chaos.”
“Disrespect for the rule of law and the judiciary as an independent institution breeds instability, social and political strife, and impedes our progress as a nation.”
Binay, who served as mayor of Makati, said the local government is a potent instrument for valuing the rights and dignity of each citizen.
Investing in the education, health, welfare, and general well-being of the poor is, in effect, recognizing and upholding their dignity, he noted.
“Social programs are not charity. They are enablers. They allow each citizen to become better persons and better citizens,” he continued.
When he was still vice president, he said he focused on finding new avenues and approaches that would underscore the responsibility of lawyers as “agents of the law and justice.”
In August, 2017, Binay established the University of Makati (UMak) School of Law to “develop future Filipino lawyers who are excellent in both the theory and practice of law.”
The former vice president bragged that UMak School of Law is the only law school in the country that offers full scholarships for an entire batch.
“Tuition and miscellaneous fees are waived for qualified enrollees, including residents and non-residents of Makati, who are provided with semestral book stipend and monthly living allowance. Its faculty includes law professors from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo, San Beda and De La Salle.”
“We hope that through our School of Law, Makati can contribute to professionalizing the practice of law, and produce excellent lawyers who are mindful of their role in society,” Binay said in ending his acceptance speech.
IBP Northern Luzon said Binay was given the “Dayaw Iti Amianan” award for having “reached the highest level in public service among the living lawyers of the region.”
“[Binay’s] dynamic and vibrant experiences as a human rights lawyer, local and national government executive, and as Vice President edify and inspire his colleagues in the legal profession,” it added.