Dean Jose Grapilon: Bikoy’s concerns can’t be belittled

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Philippine Law School Dean Jose Aguila Grapilon on Friday defended the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) from the intense flak the group received in connection with the request for legal assistance of Peter Joemel Advincula a.k.a. ‘Bikoy.’

In a statement, Grapilon, who was also the IBP national president from 1997-1999, disclosed that the group’s “doors and offices are open to anyone who feel aggrieved by some violation of the law and who seek redress in any proper forum—be it the courts, our various quasi-judicial agencies, or even in the halls of Congress. ”

He continued that the IBP, through the National Center for Legal Aid, can provide the necessary legal assistance for clients who cannot provide for their own defense and representation— especially those whose cases involves the violation of their most basic of rights.

“The issue facing Mr. Advincula is one concerning his freedom of speech and of expression. While the IBP through the NCLA cannot represent him, his concerns are ones that cannot be belittled—especially in these dark times for our country and our constitutional rights.”

“Lawyers all over the country should keep abreast of these disturbing developments and make a firm stand in favor of justice, human rights, and the rule of law in accordance with Canons 1, 4, and 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,” Grapilon said.

He also cited Article l, Section I of the IBP Guidelines on Legal Aid, which provides that “legal aid is not a matter of charity. It is a means for the correction ofsocial imbalances that may and often do lead to injustice, for which reason it is a public responsibility of the Bar.”

“Therefore, I urge my brethren in the legal profession to bear witness to these trying times, and if they serve the causes that need their expertise and fighting spirit, We as a profession cannot afford to ignore the troubling tides slowly besetting our beloved Republic. We are lawyers for the Filipino—we are here, and we are Watching,” Grapilon said.

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