Of lawyers and journalists

THE HOLY NAME UNIVERSITY  honored its “Golden Harvest” of 16 new lawyers with a three days activities last Friday up to today. This is the biggest number of bar passers of the SVD university which is under the tutelage of Law Dean Tomas Abapo Jr and Fr Francisco Estepa, university president.

Lawyers and journalists often find a common ground in their collective search for “Veritas Aequitas” or Truth and Justice while buffeted by similar forces in the dark corners that militate against their quest for a just and humane society. There are some uncanny similarities between them.

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True-blue lawyers and journalists respect the sanctity of truth. To them, truth is indivisible. Take away one part of it – and it becomes a half truth. And a half-truth is a half-lie . And there is nothing sacred with that.

Both need to swing their audience to their points of view . Journalists woo and court public opinion  while lawyers want a favorable decision from their judge. Lawyers, however,  can appeal  their losing case to the higher courts.  But once the journalists lose their credibility- they will lose in the court of public opinion – irreversibly.

Both rely on the power of words. King Solomon said in the Holy Bible :”Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” And we might add- in the power of the written words, as well.

Journalists and lawyers know that words have power and energy, In fact , they agree that words -singularly- are the most powerful force available for the use of humanity.

Both lawyers and journalists are in perilous livelihood. With so much at stake, many in the legal profession -in the field of duty- have been maimed, blackmailed or killed

Staunch environmentalist -lawyer here- Mia Mascarinas Green was murdered inside her car -in front of her horrified children and nanny in February. It took almost five months to accost the  high profile murder mastermind in Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga (34) in Davao City.  The suspected hit-man named Romarico Binagi-an remains at large.

Media men are in the same boat. Engr. “Chairman Mau” , a radio block-timer was shot in cold blood near the citadel of free expression of democracy (at the DYRD and Bohol Chronicle premises) while en route to the announcer’s studio. A suspect Jovane C Orenia has been collared with the prosecution resting its case and the the turn of the defense to speak. “The outcome of the case is still clear as mud”, some observers noted. 

Both institutions- the legal and journalism professions- are the “Great Equalizers” in society.  Media provide voice to the voiceless, defense to the weak and as a Fourth Estate, is necessarily adversarial to the powers-that-be. 

Lawyers give the citizens the option to seek redress of grievances in a forum outside the cruel world out there- where only the powerful, the rich and those with guns dictate what the law is. 

For journalists, freedom of the press and expression is a birth right enshrined in our Bill of Rights.   Lawyers, on the other hand, cite the Bill of Rights in trying to stop the excesses of government to oppress the common citizenry.

Authentic journalists know that like public officials -when they are engaged in discourse and programs that concern  the public like corruption and inefficiency – they also assume the nature of  a public persona. Being such, the public has a stake in their  lives and has the right to know if they have the character and integrity to have the right to criticize others and make them do good.

Lawyers and journalists both pay homage to transparency, accountability , and the supremacy of the rule of law.  Lawyers owe their primordial allegiance not only to their clients  but also have an obligation to society and the courts.

With respect to client-agent relationship, even information relayed to lawyers before their engagement  will remain as a guarded secret in the minds of lawyers -even if the engagement does not materialize.  Journalists, on the other hand, have a sacred duty to serve the cause of truth and public welfare. Not even the Supreme Court can force a journalist to reveal the source of his story.

Both practitioners adhere to the supremacy of the moral truth. They are supposed to adhere to moral absolutism -where “moral truth is there- whether people will believe it or not.” As contrasted to belief in “moral relativism” which treats truth as subjective . And as it is always questioned: if all morality is subjective- what is the point of making a stand against evil?

Moral truth practitioners make their decisions and actions based on what is right and not on self-interest.  Because when self interest rules – “this has a profound effect in their behavior especially on how they treat human beings.”.

Thus, moral truth is betrayed when a journalist twists his facts in exchange for thirty pieces of dirty silver.  A lawyer commits the same when he is a party to paying judge a bribe in order to corrupt the latter’s judgment.

Thus, we enjoin all committed lawyers and journalists to continue to uphold “Veritas Aequitas” – Truth and Justice- in our societal work. They are needed by society to provide the integrative force that will combat the human tendencies of the world towards materialism, domination of the weak and the greed for unmitigated power. 

They should remain as  society’s “Great Equalizers.”

Necessarily, there will be reactionaries that will provide barriers  that serve to impede rather than assist them in realizing their societal goals. 

They should not falter, they should not walk into the darkness and die. For they  are to a noble purpose born-and they will succeed. 

It has been said that there are two most important dates in our lives. First, is the day we were born. And second, is the day when we find out why we were born.

It is our hope that in becoming new lawyers- the HNU new Attys will have found the second most important day in their lives.

May God bless then and may the spirit of the SVD live in them -wherever they may be. Shalom!

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com



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