Office of the Vice President
21 August 2017
Vice President Leni Robredo has called on members of the Filipino clergy, as well as lawyers, to “take a more active part” in rebuilding the country, amid the difficulties it currently faces.
In separate speeches, VP Leni urged priests and members of the law profession to take their respective oaths to heart, in order to help the nation, especially the poor and the marginalized.
On Monday, VP Leni underscored the importance of the Catholic church in helping the country rise amid challenges.
“[T]he country needs you now more than at any other time in our history,” the Vice President said at the third Grand Alumni Homecoming of the St. Francis de Sales Major Seminary in Lipa, Batangas. “Sabi ko, iyong simbahan… tingin ko, napakalaki ng puwedeng itulong for the healing of our nation.”
“So ngayong umaga po, nakikiisa ako. Nakikiisa ako sa paggunita ninyo, nakikiisa ako sa pagtitipon-tipon ninyo, with the hope na sana sa pagtitipon na ito, umusbong iyong pagdesisyon to take a more active part in rebuilding our nation,” she added.
She urged the seminary’s alumni to channel the lessons from St. Francis de Sales, as they celebrate their homecoming in line with his 450th birth anniversary.
“Sa paggunita po noon… we will be able to transcend the difficulties. Sa paggunita, we will be able to be inspired, that in spite of the difficulties, we have a responsibility to perform, and we have to do it well,” she said. “And that’s what I think you and I need to ponder on—paano tayo mas makakatulong sa lahat.”
‘Fight for the voiceless’
In a separate speech last week, VP Leni reiterated the need to protect human rights and the rule of law, calling on lawyers to stand up for those “who cannot fight for themselves.”
Speaking before members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Bicolandia during a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education seminar in Naga City, VP Leni urged her fellow Bicolano lawyers “to honor our profession by refusing to stay safely hidden in the sidelines while our people fight for their rights.”
She noted that while she still believed the people’s hearts “are in the right place,” there is a need to confront the apparent emergence of “a dangerous mentality that freedoms are dispensable in the name of order and safety.”
“I seriously believe that as lawyers, it is critical that we must take up the fight for those who cannot fight for themselves,” she said.
“As lawyers, we must be unafraid to speak the truth and embrace the courage to fight for causes that others are unwilling to take. When it comes to justice, words are cheap. But when we stop turning a blind eye to common injustices and do something about them with the many skills at our disposal, then finally, we would have done our job as practitioners of the law,” she added.
VP Leni also declared that the law “should be a tool for inclusivity,” drawing on her years of experience as a public interest lawyer.
“If our country and the world must heal from these huge tears in our social fabric, those of us who know the law must make a stand,” she said. “We must do all we can to protect the Constitution and our people’s rights. There is no excuse for us to confuse friend with foes, because the Constitution is clear about what and who we must protect.”
“I still believe that our nation is meant for greatness and that our people’s hearts are in the right place. We will yet be proven right, but this requires everyone—most especially lawyers, who know the law intimately more than any member of society—to stand up and speak out,” she added. “It is in times like these that we are called upon to stand by the oaths we took that bright day we joined the ranks of the legal profession. We must not default.”
VP Leni, who has raised concerns over the spate of killings the country, recently denounced the shooting of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, who was killed by cops in an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City last week.
She urged an “independent” investigation on the incident, amid contradicting claims between the police and witnesses, along with footage caught on the barangay’s CCTV.
The Vice President also reiterated her call for the administration to rethink its approach in its fight against illegal drugs.