Two of the most common reasons why we people study law are: 1) they want to be lawyers and 2) they want to make big money through lawyering. This post is not about that. Instead, I would like to dig deeper into more important reasons why Filipinos should study law in the Philippines.
I. You are a highly emotional, opinionated person.
With the advent of social media, everybody has become an influencer. When we are able to effectively convey our emotions and let other people empathize with our sentiments, we create a movement. A mini revolution, if you will. Which is a good thing. However, we must remind ourselves that we are governed by laws, not emotions.
If you will be openly speaking or writing about a public issue, don’t just present your opinions and stir emotions that will lead to greater divisiveness in our nation. We already have too many of those in the Philippines. Instead, stir emotions with the end goal of exacting actionable change.
Study the law to know what it allows and prohibits. That way, we can sway the public towards an idea that is possible, attainable and may work to solve an issue.
II. You love to engage in arguments/debates.
How many times have we seen people argue endlessly and eventually resort to cursing and name-calling when things become heated? Countless times. And we can blame the lack of a common ground for that.
I loosely remember a story shared by my good friend Atty. Salvador Malana III way back when I was still in college and he was still studying law.
If you are going into an argument, both parties should agree on setting up boundaries. Because if there are no boundaries, it will just go on and on and won’t resolve anything.
In any argument involving the Filipino, there is no better “boundary” than the Philippine Constitution and its accompanying laws. Filipinos are governed by the laws of the land. If ever we get the urge to start a debate, let us always consider what our laws say before we formulate our personal opinions.
Study the law to equip yourself with the knowledge to argue objectively and intelligently, with the intent to learn and educate.
III. You do not want to be short-changed.
Know your rights and the rights of others. A lot of times, the Filipino people get the short end of the stick because we are unaware of our rights. This translates to most people getting swayed easily by assertive people who present themselves as if they have the force of law behind them, even though they do not. It basically boils down to who can act more convincingly.
If we study our laws, we do not leave our fate to who’s the better actor. With the law as our foundation, we can firmly stand our ground against anyone who wishes to remove us from exercising a right. And if we know our laws, we can protect ourselves and our families from oppression by the government or private entities.
IV. You want a challenge.
Intellectually, studying the law will provide all the challenges you can ask for. For the common folk, it is a daunting task to even read through a single law book, thanks largely to the stereotype that it is highly technical and speaks a foreign language. Kinda like our very own Constitution, as Justice Isagani Cruz have stated in one of his books. However, if you do get over the hump of that wrong impression, there’s so much to learn and so much to love about the idealism and practicality of our laws.
The real challenge then is not in the intellectual aspect, but on implementation. Once we learn about Philippine laws, it is our duty as citizens of this country to implement it for the greater good. We do not need to be lawyers or be officers of the peace to apply the law. We just need to be active advocates equipped with the brain to discern what is good and bad, and the heart to rid our nation of that blinded pursuit for status quo.
V. You love your country.
When you love someone, you put your best foot forward in knowing them intimately, right? Same goes with our love for the country. The best way for citizens to show love to the country is by knowing its laws and abiding by them. As they say, we cannot give what we do not have. Nor can we abide by something which we do not know.
If you haven’t noticed, there is no mention of enrolling in law school in this article because it is not a requirement for an individual to study the law. Although law school does present advantages like a more structured, hollistic approach and an opportunity to become a lawyer, a citizen can learn about the laws of the land in his own time, at his own pace, and in his preferred discipline without formal schooling. All you really need is curiosity and a strong love for country.
Know your laws and be better citizens.