Lawyer to celebrities Lorna Kapunan running for senator

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Lorna Kapunan, who has represented celebrities and handled gender rights related cases, announced on Thursday, June 11, that she is seeking a Senate seat in 2016.

She said the camps of Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, and the Liberal Party have approached her, and that she is leaning toward a leadership that would “continue cleaning up the government.”

“We’re outside of traditional politicians who say that you won’t win without guns and goons,” she told reporters on the sidelines of a press conference on a landmark gender-based discrimination case against Philippine Airlines.

Kapunan is the second high-profile lawyer to announce a possible senatorial bid. Human rights and international law expert Harry Roque recently announced in his website that he is "mulling running for a
seat in the Senate."

"Vice President Jejomar Binay has offered me a slot in the United Nationalist Alliance slate and I told him that I am seriously considering his offer," Roque said.

“So I’m saying to all parties, I’m here, I want to run and I want to win. And I will win because we’re motivated by the desire to serve,” Kapunan said on Thursday.

A human rights lawyer of 37 years, Kapunan is mostly known as a lawyer to celebrities, among them basketball star James Yap, doctor Hayden Kho, and actress Rhian Ramos. Her most controversial client is Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam. She was the lead defense counsel in the illegal detention case against Napoles, but she later withdrew in October 2013, citing “difference in opinion” with another Napoles lawyer.

Unknown to many, Kapunan has also been working on a discrimination case for over 15 years pro bono. She pushed for a case filed by a group of flight attendants against the Philippine Airlines, which implemented a forced resignation among stewardesses 55 years and older and stewards 60 years and older. In May 2015, the Supreme Court finally decided in favor of the flight attendants.

“I haven’t been officially invited by any party, but there are people who have been coming to me to find out if I’m genuinely running,” Kapunan told reporters.

“My answer to that is, I’m not running, I want to serve. And if serving is through the Senate, then that’s what I want to do,” she continued.

If given a Senate seat, Kapunan said she would push for amending the Family Code to recognize men who are also victims of domestic abuse. She also supports the divorce bill and the anti-discrimination bill, believing that everyone deserves respect regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The lawyer also expressed dismay over the K to 12 education program, stressing that it is geared for producing overseas employees, instead of generating jobs locally.

In 1998 and 2004, Kapunan worked in the presidential campaign of the late Senator Raul Roco, who was her law firm partner. – Rappler.com