October 08, 2008

The First

"While victims of enforced disappearances are separated from the rest of the world behind secret walls, they are not separated from the constitutional protection of their basic rights. The constitution is an overarching sky that covers all in its protection. The case at bar involves the rights to life, liberty and security in the first petition for a writ of amparo filed before this Court."

Chief Justice Reynato Puno starts his Decision in Secretary of National Defense v. Manalo, G.R. No. 180906 in this way. Read the decision here.

It's a petition that was first filed as a prohibition suit which later, after the Rule on the Writ of Amparo was passed, became an amparo petition--the very first in the Supreme Court and the very first in the Court of Appeals.

I'm proud to have been part of the team that litigated this. Kudos to Bombi Sunga, FLAG Deputy Coordinator for Metro Manila for first taking this case on, when the Manalo Brothers disappeared and litigating this issue before the CA as a habeas corpus case and to Jose Manuel Diokno, FLAG National Chair, for shepherding us through this case. Also to Cookie Diokno, FLAG Secretary General, for the great staff support.

October 02, 2008

Septembers at Taft

You will recognize an old-er lawyer when s/he invariably shakes his/her head at the organized chaos that is the Bar Ops and mutters soto voce but almost enviously, "we never had this before."

For one that prides itself on not being bar-oriented, UP has jumped wholeheartedly on to the bandwagon that is the Bar Ops. While there are many mixed feelings about this from all quarters, one thing must be said about it: there is value to having an entire institution come out in support of you as you walk along Taft for four (4) Sundays in September.

So, it must be said, and I'll say it here: Congratulations to Arianne Reyes and her team for this year's bar ops; quite aptly called, simply, "100% UP LAW."

When the phrase ("100% UP Law") first came to my mind after 2007's bar ops, I gathered Lobit and PY and pitched it to them, both agreed with the concept; when I asked for names to head bar ops, many came up but one name was common to all three of us: Arianne's. And so it came to pass that before she was even elected VP of the UP LSG, she was already de facto the bar ops head.

I've been to many bar ops but I think this year was one of the best organized (at least from my point of view); it also enjoyed, for once, institutional support coming from no less than the Dean who, after being pleasantly surprised to see the organized chaos that was Bar Ops during the second Saturday, pleasantly surprised the volunteers and the examinees by showing up every Saturday and Sunday thereafter and even getting a room at the hotel to ensure that he would be on the first bus to Taft. (I think more than anything also, the Dean ensured that this year's bar ops would be unforgettable because he not only stood through two masses, but even actively participated in one of them.)

The bar ops this year has led to many epiphanies for many people. This year's experience, for instance, has shown the Dean just how important it is to the examinees that they get the support of the law school and not only the perception of support; and so it will be that next year's effort will build on this and previous year's efforts. Already, plans are underway for more concerted efforts towards hitting the 100% that was the call for this year but is part of the Dean's program for his term. Even now, as September has just ended, preparations are in earnest for next year, with hopes that these will become institutional muscle memory in a law school that must see itself as not just in its many traditions, not just in its many memories but also in the many lives that it encounters.

I do not know all the names involved in Arianne's team and so I will not attempt to list them down for fear that I will forget one. I will just leave to Arianne the task of disseminating my regard and esteem for this year's bar ops leaders, core team and volunteers. Job well done, all!

Septembers, for lawyers and law students, will always bring memories of that rite of passage known as the Bar. Until next September then . . .

Taking the Bar and Trying Cases

Here's something I wrote in my other blog.