‘Be gracious in defeat, stay vigilant’, justices tell new lawyers

MANILA Supreme Court Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro called on the 1,724 new lawyers who took their oath on Friday to protect the dignity of judicial institutions and help maintain respect for judicial processes.

Our courts of law are not courts of public opinion. Members of the legal profession have the obligation to help non-lawyers understand that the popularity and non-popularity of a legal view will be given no weight by the courts. The duty to give due respect to the courts does not end when the case is decided, de Castro said in her message at the oath-taking ceremony of new lawyers held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

Lawyers should be gracious in defeat. If you lose your case on the merits fair and square, own up to it. Don't blame others, and don't prop up your bruised ego at the expense of your colleagues' hard-earned reputation and the goodwill of the people for the justice system, she said.

If you believe that you know better than the courts, or that jurists that have been sitting on the bench long before you were born would readily gamble their careers by deciding cases based on ill motives and petty personal concerns, you would not be here today to take your oath, she added.

Without mentioning any name in her speech, de Castro warned the newly minted barristers against quickly rising in the ranks without merits, where she stressed the importance of hard work, fealty to the Constitution, and upholding important values in the practice of the legal profession.

You will encounter people who might be promoted ahead of you because of carefully cultivated glittering persona and a talent for self-promotion or credit-grabbing, not things of substantial accomplishment. They believe their own hype or lose humility. When they attain a position of authority without real effort, they tend to be blinded by power and intoxicated by the perks and privileges attached to the position.

You will see it many times in your careers that those who rise too fast fall just as quickly, de Castro, who is set to retire on Oct. 8 from the High Court, said.

Our justice system is imperfect but it does work well within the boundaries set by the Constitution, you will know this every time you do your work well and make someone else's life better through the law. Love what you do, and have faith that your work is a meaningful contribution to the administration of your justice, the lady magistrate said.

For his part, Supreme Court Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin, 2017 Bar Examinations Committee chairman, reminded the fresh lawyers not to stray away from the rule of law.

I exhort you to be vigilant as lawyers. Do not permit any fellow lawyer to defect from his or her fealty to the Rule of Law, Bersamin said.

He added that lawyers must always detest and reprove a fellow lawyer who joins a public demand for disrespecting the courts and their rulings.

At that hour, when disrespect for the courts and their judgments become rampant, and when the very ramparts of our constitutional democracy are assailed, lawlessness and disorder may badly tear the moral fabric of the Nation. Then, we really need the leadership of the lawyers. Then is the time for lawyers like you to come out openly to defend the institution of the courts, Bersamin said.

He said, regardless of the stand, lawyers' priority is to protect the institution, otherwise the day of anarchy and lawlessness may be upon us before we know it, and it will be too late.

Bersamin said the number of examinees for 2017 was the highest so far compared to the past two years.

He, however, noted that the percentage of bar exam passers this year was lower compared to the 59.06 percent or 3,747 out of 6,344 examinees who passed in the 2016 Bar Examinations and the 26.21 percent or 1,731 out of 6,605 examinees who passed the 2015 Bar Examinations.

Bersamin underscored that while lawyers can criticize courts, he said it is always important to always deal with the highest degree of professionalism and civility.

The Supreme Court has been at the receiving end of criticisms following its May 11, 2018 decision granting the quo warranto petition that ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

Voting 8-6, the high court declared that Sereno is not qualified to sit as chief justice and announced the position vacant.

Bersamin and de Castro were two of the eight magistrates who voted in favor of the quo warranto petition against the former top magistrate. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency