Morales to UP Law grads: The law is not for oppression
Use the law to do good, not to oppress.
That was the message of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales in her remarks after she was conferred the “Honoris Causa” Doctor of Laws as an alumna of the University of the Philippines College of Law during graduation rites Monday night.
The retired Supreme Court justice reminded the graduates to use the law profession as a tool to do good should they become leaders of the country.
She said the country needed good leaders and not just leaders who succeed in their professions while engaged in corrupt practices, which Morales said was a social malady.
“The nation is banking on your generation to keep in mind and heart the virtue of ‘love of country’ as you become this nation’s future leaders,” Morales said.
“The country does not need the best leaders, for, more often than not, they become the best after engaging themselves in shady compromises and illicit activities. It is enough that leaders remain good in the purest sense of the word,” she added.
Morales urged the graduates to use the “powerful tool of law” to remain true to their ideals, and not use it for oppression.
“My supplication to you, members of the UP Law 2016, is to give someone hope when all hope is lost; not to turn law into an instrument of oppression; and to be true to one’s ideals,” Morales said.
“These are our basic responsibilities in nation-building, our onus not only as lawyers but as simple citizens,” she added.
Morales said corruption, the “social malady” that the Ombudsman is mandated to combat, remains a pervasive problem in the country.
“That corruption is commonly observed to be increasingly becoming systematic is valid. No matter how many people we hold liable, no matter how many government officials we send to jail, if the system remains uncured, the vicious cycle of corruption will not stop,” Morales said.
Morales said the practical solutions to corruption were to prevent it and to weed it out from the roots.
“The ill-fated system itself will breed the next generation of corrupt leaders unless something is done with the roots,” Morales said.
“As there is yet no absolute cure to corruption, prevention appears to be the only remedy against the spreading of this social malady,” she added.
Morales said her office had been able to reduce its workload by half as it targeted zero backlog in 2018, when her term expires.
Total pending cases amounted to a “manageable” 7,328 cases in 2015, from a whopping 19,814 pending administrative and criminal cases when she assumed office in 2011, Morales said.
Morales said her office was able to utilize the Internet and social media for netizens to report complaints of corruption by errant public officials.
She added that her office in 2012 implemented its complaint and case monitoring system and a prosecution monitoring information system to improve monitoring and tracking of complaints and cases before the court.
“This growing power of information over the Internet is what the Office of the Ombudsman would want to maximize… More than making the work of investigators easier, social media should empower our citizenry to be proactive partners in good governance and advocacy,” Morales said.
She said that on top of the anticorruption drive, her office had to contend with allegations of partiality and selective justice when her office cracked down on public officials from the opposition while sparing administration allies.
“The Office is not perturbed, however. Such accusations are par for the course. It bears emphasis that we only adjudicate on the basis of evidence presented before us,” Morales said.
The Ombudsman urged the new graduates, the “baby boomers and millennials,” to take into heart the “time-honored virtues of perseverance, industry, integrity, civility and loyalty.”
“Know that there’s is no right answer to the question, but know as well that having the license to practice law is an extraordinarily powerful tool. How you use your knowledge of the law is what makes the difference,” Morales said.
“How you act with that license will be your character,” she added.
The Ombudsman is prosecuting the following high-profile corruption cases before the Sandiganbayan: the plunder case of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the P366-million charity funds mess and another one for graft related to the NBN-ZTE deal; and the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) plunder cases against Senators Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, and Juan Ponce Enrile.
Arroyo is under hospital detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, while Revilla and Estrada are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.
Enrile was allowed to post bail by the Supreme Court on humanitarian grounds./rga
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