Tuesday, January 17, 2006


YoungBlood: Injustice of Law
By John Henry C. Liquete
Inquirer News Service

SOMEBODY asked: What do you call a thousand lawyers chained at the bottom of the ocean?
The reply was: A good start.

It is true that some lawyers have turned their backs from the real vision and reason for which lawyers exist.

I have nothing against lawyers. In fact, I hope to be one, someday; I am a now in my second-year law. But certainly I will not be the kind who will defile the temples of justice.

When the impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives ended, I found myself utterly disgusted with the way the law was used to hide the truth and, worse, make a mockery of justice. To my view, some lawyer-congressmen, by their behavior, disgraced the profession, which supposedly puts premium to integrity and justice.

As a law student, I always have been made to understand that laws are made to protect the innocent, serve the ends of justice and seek out the truth; and to allow an accused to defend himself, punish the guilty and discourage people from doing others wrong. I was also taught that our Constitution was formulated to protect the sanctity of the ballot and strengthen the institutions of democracy, among others. Indeed, our Constitution and our laws do not exist to conceal the truth, encourage wrongdoing and, least of all, suppress justice. And, certainly, they were not meant to be strictly interpreted in their technical and narrow sense, but in the context of justice, righteousness, decency, rectitude, and, most of all, integrity.

“Every instance of a man’s suffering the penalty of the law is an instance of the failure of that penalty in effecting its purpose which is to deter from transgression,” says Archbishop Richard Whately.

But hallelujah, laws have become effective in the Philippines because few suffer the penalty of the law and not because they discourage transgression. For example, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is getting away with a violation of law after just saying “I am sorry.”

Indeed, this example demonstrates how the law could be so easily abused -- ironically, many times as a means to committing an injustice.

Perhaps, why some lawyers don’t care a whit about tarnishing this noble profession could be explained by looking at the quality of law education they got. Most law schools today tend to guide their students into merely focusing on passing the bar and on memorizing laws, for a chance of attaching the initials A-T-T-Y before their names. Nothing about justice and the ends of the law is given due importance.

I am studying law not only because I want to become a lawyer but also because I am awed by its wondrous mechanisms and its power to uphold and celebrate justice, its real and ultimate objective. I want to become a lawyer because I want to play a significant role in promoting the cause of justice.

People may think I’m crazy because I have impossible dreams. But I believe and keep faith that someday this nation will overcome the difficulties it is grappling with right now, and soar high, with much to be proud of, in the eyes of the world. I believe and keep faith in the inner goodness of our people as the key in the transformation of society for the better. The evils we see in our society should not deter us from our pursuit of true justice. I believe lawyers should be among the first to do something to free this world from the debilitating grip of greed and injustice.
There will be those saying that I am not practical, that I am too far off from reality. These are probably the ones who have lost hope in our people. We have to revive that hope in them to create a society that is founded in and driven by idealism. A revolution in the heart and the mind is called for here. We need revolutionaries to persuade our citizens into becoming active participants in our nation’s quest for justice.

I’m 20 years old now. My age has absolutely nothing to do with my dreams. Young or old, age should never be an excuse for a person’s “state of idealism.”

Unfortunately, today’s politicians don’t listen to what we, the young, have to say; they would not hear the “hope of the fatherland.” Our cries, like our demand for Ms Arroyo’s resignation, have landed on deaf ears. When we air our discontent and voice our aspirations, people in government complain and label us as destabilizers, communists even. How can we light the flames of hope in our country if our voice remains unheard?

We appeal to the so-called leaders of our country: Lend your ears to us, we have a lot to say and a lot to suggest. If you really believe we are the hope of the future, as we often hear you say, then listen to us. (Many of us have become cynical and apathetic because of the callousness of many of our public officials.)

When I get my law degree, I may be familiar with the law and jurisprudence. But when I step out into the real world, will I find them relevant to the life of every man and woman in this country at least, and being applied as well to promote the cause of justice? I’m worried, that given the present situation, I will find myself out there as if I know nothing.

Still I would like to believe that most of our lawyers, unlike lawyer-politicians, are not deaf to our people’s cry for justice and righteousness.

John Henry C. Liquete, 20, is a Political Science graduate from Saint Louis University. He is in his second year at the San Beda College of Law.
Editor's Note: Published on page A11 of the October 11, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

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