Robredo to FEU Law grads: Stand up against 'culture of apathy'
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo urged graduates of the Far Eastern University (FEU) Institute of Law to speak out against the "growing culture of apathy" over rule of law and human rights in the country.
Robredo was the commencement speaker at the FEU Institute of Law's graduation rites held in Manila on Tuesday, June 5.
The Vice President, a lawyer herself, told the graduates to honor their profession by "refusing to stay safely hidden in the sidelines" as other Filipinos fight for their rights.
"We go against not a single entity, but a growing culture of apathy. We do not protect our people from a single oppressor now the way we did during Martial Law, but the creeping, dangerous mentality that the rule of law and human rights are dispensable; the tendency to look away when Lady Justice peeks through her blindfold, and the folly of giving away our nation and our people's security and sovereignty," said Robredo.
"Because just as the extraordinary acts of ordinary people saved our nation before, so can a misguided population derail the progress that was very near our grasp," she added.
Last month, the Vice President was among the staunchest opposers of the Supreme Court's ouster of ex-chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. Robredo said the granting of the quo warranto petition against Sereno "brazenly tramples on" the Constitution.
Robredo also said in March that she is losing faith in the Department of Justice under then-secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, whose term saw the dismissal of charges against alleged drug lords Peter Lim and Kerwin Espinosa and the granting of state protection for alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Robredo said she was alarmed after Chinese bombers landed in the Paracel Islands in the disputed South China Sea last month.
'Stand up and speak out'
In her speech on Tuesday, Robredo said she is hoping the FEU Law graduates would use what they learned to uphold justice in the ways they can.
"I dream of a nation with institutions that are strong enough to protect rule of law, justice, and equality. But this requires everyone – most especially lawyers, who know the law intimately more than any member of society – to stand up and speak out," said Robredo.
"It is in times such as these that the legal profession, which you all aspire to join, will be called upon to stand by the oaths we take that bright day we join its ranks. When the time comes, we must not default. As Desmond Tutu once said, 'If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor,'" she added.
Prior to being Vice President, Robredo had served at the Public Attorney's Office and the non-governmental organization Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal.
She finished her law degree at the University of Nueva Caceres in Naga City in 1992. Robredo, already a mother at the time, passed the Bar Examinations on her second attempt in 1996. – Rappler.com