Serve the provinces, new lawyers told
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has urged the newest batch of lawyers to practice their profession in the provinces, saying the hold of “Imperial Manila” on the country’s political and legal systems led to a “myopic view of the problem of justice in our country.”
Speaking at the oath-taking rites of the 3,747 new lawyers on Monday, Sereno said the Supreme Court was already taking the necessary steps to address the challenges brought about by the country’s increasing population and regional diversities.
“We need to talk about encouraging more Mindanao, Visayas and non-Metro Manila lawyers to consider staying and rendering service where they are,” Sereno told the audience at the event held during the special en banc session of the 15-member tribunal at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“I ask you, batch 2016, to consider that it has been the historical neglect of the countryside that has created the understandably myopic view of the problem of justice in our country,” she said.
High passing rate
The Chief Justice lauded the historic feat of the latest batch of legal practitioners, the biggest number of law graduates who passed the bar exams, arguably the country’s most difficult professional licensure examination.
She also noted that it was the first time that none of the major law schools produced a topnotcher since the first bar examination was administered in 1901.
“This is an indication of the dispersal of quality legal education all throughout the country,” Sereno said.
As new lawyers, the Chief Justice reminded them that they should protect the country’s democratic institutions and uphold the rule of law “with integrity and professionalism.”
Sereno also dared them to “serve where the need [for legal services] is greatest” and to help the 15-member tribunal in implementing much-needed reforms in the country’s judicial system.
“The inequalities in material resources, infrastructures, access and other regional specificities shape the system of justice throughout the nation,” she said.
“Yet, we have seen that many components of our justice system do not take the incredible diversity of our nation’s people into account.”
Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., chair of the 2016 bar exams, urged the new lawyers to offer free legal aid to the poor.
“Lawyering is not a business,” said Velasco, who received a standing ovation and thundering applause from the audience.