By Ellson Quismorio
Rizal 2nd district Rep. Fidel Nograles has challenged the country’s new lawyers to help fight discrimination against the so-called frontliners of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our new lawyers are welcomed into the fold under extraordinary circumstances. These circumstances are demanding—simply put, we need lawyers to go to bat for our heroes who are risking life and limb to protect us from the threat of the pandemic,” said Nograles, himself a lawyer.
The neophyte solon was among the first in the House of Representatives to call attention to the growing discrimination against frontliners–mostly health professionals–and patients stricken with the deadly acute respiratory illness which still has no cure.
Sometimes, this discrimination turns into instances of harassment, such as pelting the house of COVID-19 positive individuals with stones.
“This is a time for all members of the legal profession to re-examine why we chose a career in law in the first place. The law is about justice, in the end, and I have every confidence that with this principle is foremost in the hearts and minds of our new lawyers, they will not shirk from the challenge of the times,” Nograles said.
The Supreme Court released the results of the 2019 bar exams last Wednesday.
“Of course, congratulations are in order. Pinaghirapan ng mga bagong abogado ang tagumpay nila ngayon (These new lawyers earned this success). But as we always say, the hardest part starts now,” said the Harvard-trained congressman.
Last month, the alumni of the UP College of Law formed the Volunteer Lawyers Against Discrimination (VLAD).
The group is composed of lawyers coming from more than 20 different law schools nationwide. It helps victims of discrimination related to the pandemic, particularly patients and frontliners, including overseas Filipino workers.
Nograles had also expressed his support to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ (IBP) commitment to defend frontliners against discrimination and human rights violations.
The Rizal legislator further urged new lawyers not to wait for their license to be of service to the country.
According to him, there are various volunteer groups that not only pursue an anti-discrimination advocacy, but other causes as well such as legal aid for persons deprived of liberty and the poor.