Prophets of morality in the rule of law

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UA&P SLG Dean Joaquin E. San Diego (right)
and SLG Secretary Prof. Jeremy I. Gatdula.

NEWS came out last year that the steadily-rising-in-local-prestige UA&P  was opening a law school. The reaction of many friends I talked to about it was “What another lawyer factory?”

There is a belief held by, I guess, most of mankind—including the unschooled and very poor majority as well as the small global elite of literate (and even literary people) and the wealthy, and of course everyone who has had a brush with the law—that the first thing to do for a better world is to “kill all the lawyers.”  Right?  After all no less than Shakespeare said so.

Wrong. The famous Shakespearean quote (in Henry the Sixth) is really in praise of lawyers and the rule of law. Law written on parchments, thanks to  lawyers. Written and available for all to be ruled by.

Shakespeare’s character who says  “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” is aptly named Dick the Butcher, a member of a gang of baddies.  Jack Cade, a traitor to the crown who wishes to start a revolution and establish a sort of communistic regime under his control, leads the gang.  Readers and playgoers see that Dick the Butcher and the other gang members are dismayed by Cade’s boastful talk. They couch their words of support to “your Majesty” in sarcastic praise.


So when people use that quote to condemn lawyers “as a race of human beings” they display their ignorance of Shakespeare’s Henry the Sixth. And they reveal their unjust and superficial mentality. Shakespeare was just, profound and virtuous.  He was a genius. A man of wisdom.

uap-law-sch-adHe was a Roman Catholic who managed to avoid being persecuted by the anti-Catholic Gestapo-like agents of the so-called Virgin Queen Elizabeth I.  But he never betrayed the moral and spiritual values of Roman Catholicism in his writings.
Shakespeare’s England still had a mainly “popish” Christian population who suffered oppression. They faced jail and martyrdom when accused of being adherents of the Roman and not the Anglican Church whose head was the Queen and before her reign, her father Henry VIII.  Catholic families in the aristocracy found themselves dispossessed of their estates. Simple Catholics lost their thatched roof homes and farms.

But the trembling hearts of the crypto-Roman Catholic population continued to hold dear the memory of their martyred bishops, priests and laymen.  Among these martyrs was the brilliant lawyer and Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor of the Realm, Thomas More. He would not issue decisions contrary to the proper and legitimate laws of his country and the Church. He, the King’s chief legal counsel and right hand man, refused to acquiesce in Henry VIII’s decision to separate England from the Catholic Church and become Head of the Church of England so he could dissolve his marriage to Katherine of Aragon and marry other women.  So Henry VIII had him beheaded.

Catholics know him as St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, after Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1935.  John Paul II called him “the heavenly patron of statesmen and politicians.”

The foundation day of UA&P’s School of Law and Governance (SLG) is St. Thomas More’s feast day, June 22.  For the UA&P Trustees’ policy—docile to the inspiration of the university’s spiritual founder — is to make its alumni professionals who will strive hard to turn all the circumstances and events of their lives—including the practice of law—into occasions of loving God, serving the Church, the Pope and all souls, with joy and simplicity, lighting up the paths of this earth with faith and love. (These are almost the exact words found in the prayer card used by devotees to invoke God’s favor through the intercession of St. Josemaria Escriva, the Founder of the prelature of Opus Dei, to which the spiritual well-being of UA&P is entrusted.)

“Your daily encounter with Christ takes place right where you work, where your aspirations and your affections are. That is where we must seek sanctity, in the midst of the most material things of the earth, serving God and all humankind. Heaven and earth seem to merge, my daughters and sons, on the horizon. But where they really meet is in your hearts, when you strive for holiness in your everyday lives…,” St. Josemaría Escrivá said in a homily.

So this is what the former UA&P Institute of Political Economy, that has grown into the SLG, strives to infuse in the minds—and hearts and souls—of its students, apart from lessons in the law in the highly disciplinarian but cheerful atmosphere in its classrooms.

“The UA&P School of Law and Governance (SLG) offers courses that seek to address society’s current need for individuals who will bring to their legal and governance work a combination of a broad culture, well-honed skills in advocacy and in policy analysis, an ethical sense, a keen understanding of the holistic and integrated character of society, government and business; all with a regional and global perspective.

“In 1995, the Institute of Political Economy began to offer a 5-Year masters program in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (patterned after the Oxford University PPE program), which eventually evolved as M.A. in Politics and now the M.A. in Political Economy with Specialization in International Relations and Development.

“In October 2013 the Institute of Political Economy became the School of Law and Governance of the University of Asia and the Pacific after the Legal Education Board, through its Chairman, informed the University that he finds no legal or administrative impediment to the opening of the law program in school year 2014-2015.

NEITHER Dean Joaquin E. San Diego nor Prof. Jeremy I. Gatdula gave an answer to, “Another  lawyer factory? “

Will the UA&P’s SLG be a better law school than those that have been hailed, veritably since the foundation of our Republic, as the nation’s best, the law schools that have produced the heads of the most successful law firms, the alma mater of presidents, senators and congressmen (and congresswomen), provincial governors and city mayors?

Jemy (that’s how friends call him) would not take the bait—and offer any kind of rejoinder—when I said the obvious and well known to newspaper readers and broadcast news listeners: that these famous law schools have also produced the most criticized people in our country for their corruption.

It is simply amazing that it is alleged—and, in heaven’s name, it is actually proved by voluminous evidence—that almost all the congressmen and the senators and the most powerful men in the Cabinet, and their aides or mistresses, have committed crimes of corruption, or abuse of authority, or partnership with despicable scam artists, or helping corporations, like Meralco, to enrich themselves with taxpayers’ money, at the cost of making the ordinary people poorer and more miserable, with the consequence that business and production growth is retarded.

040214_uap-03_mikedjMore astonishing is that most of these corrupt people, these examples of immorality, rapacious greed, absence of patriotism and concern for the poorest of the poor, these hypocrites who give graduation day orations, these liars and thieves of the people’s money are graduates of the great established schools of law.

How will UA&P’s School of Law and Governance be different from those of say the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, etcetera.

UA&P Law Program Fact Sheet
The “UA&P Law Program Fact Sheet” gives an official answer.  One can find it in the SLG website.

Says the fact sheet:
Cultured, Entrepreneurial, Ethical, Global Advocates.
On top of the standard competencies required by the Legal Education Board, graduates of the UA&P Law programs are honed to be skilled in legal reasoning and advocacy and, more importantly, to be well-rounded individuals: cultured and ethical, familiar with both public and private sector mindset, and capable of understanding peoples and legal systems transcending national borders.

With the foreseen economic integration of the 10 ASEAN countries in 2015, the Law programs will seek to equip their students with tools to prepare them for practice in the region.

The 4-year JD program is open to college graduates who fulfill the conditions for application to law school and pass the law school qualifying test (LSQT) and other screening procedures.

The 7-year Honors JD program is open only to high school graduates with a GWA of at least 85% or its equivalent. Students accepted in the program are still required to take the LSQT and undergo other screening procedures before admission to the JD program proper. Those who complete the program will receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities and a Juris Doctor degree.

“The School of Law and Governance recognizes that law and morality are inherently intertwined and it is extremely important that the unchanging moral and ethical precepts of the natural law guide a lawyer’s approach to the practice of law.”

That is why the The School of Law and Governance (SLG) offers courses that seek to address society’s current need for individuals who will bring to their legal and governance work a combination of a broad culture, well-honed skills in advocacy and in policy analysis, an ethical sense, a keen understanding of the holistic and integrated character of society, government and business; all with a regional and global perspective.

“JD Program emphasizes the interrelationship between law, ethics, and Christian moral and social principles. The curriculum is thus designed to explore the philosophy and foundation of law and focus on ethics and ethical principles and their application in the practice of law. Hence, the inclusion of subjects like Moral Foundations of the Law, Legal Ethics, and Law, Ethics, and Public Policy.”

* * *

DEAN San Diego is both a lawyer and a chemical engineer.

He taught chemical engineering at the University of the Philippines.

He worked at the University Center Foundation as its Technical Director. There he designed and implemented youth training programs and at the same time performed NGO staff work involving the “institutionalization of systems for NGO compliance with tax and customs laws.”

At the Manila Equities Corporation and it affiliate companies, he did corporate law work without staining his hands in getting “special deals” for his clients, among were an investment house, two mining companies listed in the stock exchanges and a rural bank.  His work involved relations with SEC, BIR, Central Bank and the stock exchanges

Then since 1996 he has worked with the UA&P.  He worked as the Executive Officer of the Vice Grand Chancellor of the University and concurrently served as member of the Board of Trustees. His work involved developing policy papers for the new university, particularly those concerning corporate and governance culture. He drafted the rules and procedures of governance for the Management Committee (university-wide) and the Operations Committees of the schools and institutes. He also served as consultant for a high school system, a farm school system and several tertiary-level technical schools.

He has proved to be an excellent achiever among the second generation of leaders of UA&P.  The first generation is that made up of Dr. Bernie Villegas, Dr. Jesus Estanislao,  Dr. Henry Esteban, and others.

More than these—and the work he has done as a consultant to a few government agencies (none of which had any stain of corruption whatsoever), my faith in him lies in the fact that what drives him to be hardworking, competent and devoted to his work is his relationship with God.

He goes to Mass every day, says the Rosary, goes to confession every week and does many other norms of piety that most other successful lawyers find corny and even stupid.

He does only what, after carefully assessment and prayer, his best light tells him is what God wills.

Int’l law expert, natural law advocate
SLG Secretary Professor Jeremy I. Gatdula is not only a lawyer who has proved his mettle in court and in international discussions about the law, lawmaking and public policy.

His specialization as a lawyer is in international economic law and the World Trade Organization.

He is a natural law advocate.  The Manila Times ran a special article by Prof. Gatdula on natural law and the reproductive health issue last year.

Apart from the administrative work he does as Secretary of the University of Asia & the Pacific School of Law and Governance, he is the school’s lecturer for International Trade Law and Political Thought.

He is also a Bar and MCLE lecturer on public international law for various institutions, including the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Ateneo Law School, and the University of the East College of Law.

He is special counsel on international economic matters for the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry. And he writes a column for BusinessWorld.
He served as a Bar Examiner for Political Law and Public International Law for the Philippine Bar Exams of 2009.

Prof. Gatdula has authored or edited articles on public international law, international economic law, and natural law.

He is Lay Commissioner for the Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media, as well as legal adviser for the Episcopal Commission for Family and Life, of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. He is legal counsel for the EWTN Foundation Philippines and hosts the weekly television show Naturang Batas: Likas na Tama at TV Maria.

Mr. Gatdula holds a Bachelor of Science degree, Major in Management (San Beda, 1991). He received his Bachelor of Law degree from Arellano in 1995. He took his oath as member of the Philippine Bar in 1996.

On scholarship from the Cambridge Overseas Trust, he went to the University of Cambridge for his Master of Law degree (specializing in international law), which he received in 2000.

He is 44, is married to the former Karinna R. Salle and they have a daughter.

Like Dean San Diego, Mr. Gatdula goes to Holy Mass daily and does norms of piety every day.  His actions as a professional and as a family man —his work— are offerings he makes to God.

The SLG students find studying under the guidance of both Dean San Diego and Prof. Gatdula a joy.

Visit the SLG websites and see how enthusiastic the law students are.

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4 Comments

  1. Dominador D. Canastra on

    God bless you, Dean San Diego and Atty. Jeremy Gatdula.
    And God bless your happy-looking students.
    May you succeed, Atty. Gatdula, in persuading young people to accept the fact–as intellectuals before did–that Natural Law is a reality. That if it is not considered in legal and any other deliberation, the results are doomed to failure.

  2. Claro Apolinar on

    Let’s not forget that as the Muslims say “Inshallah”–if God wills–is what prevails.
    Even St. Josemaria Escriva himself said something like “Work as if everything depended on you but pray without ceasing because the truth is that everything depends on Him.”
    It’s very sad how the rule of law in our country has been ignored and.or that the law enforcers, the lawmakers, the people in power in the provinces and in Malacanang and even in the private sector are so depraved, greedy and only serving themselves and their clans’ interests. These are mostly lawyers, or rich families, who hire the “best” lawyers.
    I have “best” because it doesn’t mean being like St. Thomas More or Atty. Gatdula, whose pleadings in the courts, are models of good, moral, effective argumentation. Now “best” means who can get fiscals and judges to rule in their clients’ favor not by proving where justice lies but by offering the most money.
    May UA&P’s SLG succeed.–Claro Apolinar

  3. Edgar G. Festin on

    Congratulations, UA&AP!
    It’s true UA&P’s locally prestige in the Phiippines is steadily rising since it became a university was it 20 years ago?
    But abroad, even as CRC — Center for Research and Communication–it has always been respected since day one. That’s because of its link with the University of Navarre and the IESE in Barcelona.

  4. May graduates of UAAP’s Law School help bring back the Thomas More kind of lawyers to roles of leadership in our country.