Friday, June 23, 2017

Sereno encouraged young people to "rise up to be better than your elders."

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Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has urged new lawyers not to follow in the footsteps of members of the legal profession who she said have succumbed to corruption and influence peddling.

Speaking at the commencement exercises of the Bulacan State University College of Law on Wednesday, Sereno admitted that her generation and those before her contributed to "frittering away our chances to build a strong and proud country."

She then recited the "too many compromises" that attended lawyers' work and the work of justice.

"Instead of affirming the people’s desire to have a fully accountable government, some lawyers devoted their talent to hiding ill-gotten wealth and enabling corrupt practices," Sereno said.

"Instead of aiding a strict merit-based system for promotion and appointment to key justice positions, as those in the Judiciary, the Department of Justice, and the Ombudsman, well-connected lawyers used all kinds of tricks to elevate those who could be relied on to be partial to them. Instead of advancing the people’s cause for a constitutionally-ordered system of checks and balances and strong institutions, some lawyers used insider access and pressure from the political sphere to weaken institutions," she added.

With this, Sereno encouraged young people to "rise up to be better than your elders."

"You must resist all those who denigrate your lofty ideas about what the world should be. When the old and the jaded tell you to accept the status quo, to be pragmatic, to flow with the tide, you must stand your ground," she said.

She also urged them to reject those who occupy positions of power "that succeeded in manipulating the law to serve their selfish ends" and be ashamed of "Filipinos who have betrayed the public weal."

"Say no! Say that you will have no part in them and in their legacy. Say that you would, rather, forge yourself a legacy built on honor and service," she said.

The chief magistrate reminded the future lawyers to have the courage to do what is right by demanding accountability from people in positions of authority, working with compassion, serving with meaning and striving for a just world.

"In your heroism as young lawyers — as you follow the path blazed by those who have gone before you and given their lives for our country and our people -- you will find treacherous trails for you to forge in these tumultuous times. Let these reminders serve as guiding lamps as you go forward," she said.

This was not the first time Sereno had called out erring members of the justice sector. She had previously described corrupt judges as "hoodlums in robes" and "scalawags in purple robes," even as she appealed to lawyers at the time to help the high court in the fight against corruption in the judiciary. 

 — MDM, GMA News

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