Thursday, May 1, 2014

Drilon to aspiring lawyers: Lawyers must be problem solvers, not gladiators

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon proposed a paradigm shift among the country’s lawyers to help address issues confronting the legal profession and advised the aspiring lawyers to refrain from misusing legal procedures to advance their own interest, as they only hamper the swift administration of justice in the country.

The Senate leader made the statement as he received the degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) from the University of the Philippines (UP) during the 2014 commencement exercises of the UP College of Law, where he was the guest of honor and keynote speaker.

Speaking before the graduating law students, Drilon encouraged the aspiring lawyers “to be problem solvers, rather than gladiators,” as there is a need to change the perspective of lawyers and judges as to the handling of legal disputes.

Drilon suggested that the time is ripe for lawyers to move away from being combatants: “Lawyers should be more result-oriented, rather than procedure-based.”

“Judges and lawyers should be more interested in attaining just results, rather than an overly strict compliance with rules. Legal disputes should be settled, not on the basis of who is more capable of using legal procedures to his advantage, but rather on the basis of who has a clear right in law,” he said.

He said that there is a need to recalibrate the process by which solutions to legal disputes are attained. 

“It is about time that we consider changing the way that our lawyers are trained. There may be merit to the proposition that law graduates should be required, or at the very least encouraged, to train in government positions that require the exercise of skills pertaining to alternative dispute resolution, such as conciliation and mediation,” he said.

“When lawyers face each other as gladiators, the result is always a winner-take-all situation. However, as officers of the court, the duty of lawyers is not merely to arrive at a determination of who wins and who loses. Rather, the duty of lawyers is to see to it that justice is done,” Drilon stressed.

The honorary title hailed Drilon for championing “good governance, the speedy administration of justice, and the protection of human rights,” throughout his years as a lawmaker in the Philippine Congress.

The honorary degree conferred by UP noted that the senator “complemented his legislative agenda with programs that enhanced the capacity of various sectors, as well as much-needed projects such as the construction of school buildings, repair and upgrading of public hospital facilities and the clean-up of the Iloilo River.”

The title lauded Drilon the most for “consistently upholding his principles and ideals, amidst hostile and forceful resistance, exemplifying integrity and competence in every facet of his professional and personal life.”

The conferment was led by UP President Alfredo Pascual and Chair Patricia Licuanan of the Commission on Higher Education.

The Senate chief expressed his “great sense of humility” as he accepted the honor bestowed upon him by the university: “To be honored in this grand manner -- conferment of Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa -- by my beloved alma mater was beyond my imagination when I graduated from this institution of learning four decades ago.”

“With immense pride and joy, I share this honor with my family and the people who have been with me in my journey. I dedicate this to my late father, Cesar Sr., who would have been 94 today,” he concluded.  

Drilon was a member of the class ‘69 of the UP College of Law, and was among the topnotchers of the 1969 Bar examinations. During his time a student, he was member of the editorial board of the Philippine Law Journal, associate editor of the Philippine Collegian, and councilor of the University Student Council.  

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