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By: Rheinhart Pahila

LAW is a complex algorithm. The fine prints of its letters overwhelm its readers. True enough, even the learned lawyers sometimes have varying interpretations. The spaces of its complexities have overshadowed the need to understand its importance and the intent of its creation.

EMPOWER is a legacy project of the University of San Agustin-College of Law, Batch 2018.

The project started with an out-of-the-blue invitation from our batchmate, Winilyn Joei Sancho, to conduct an information drive during Women’s month. Emotionally and mentally drained journey after the 2018 Bar Examinations, we heeded the call. To our mind, this was the best way to spend our energy while waiting for the results. We had to keep ourselves insanely busy. We started an idea of organizing a legal forum on Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children [RA 9262] to create a fertile ground for education. It is our firm belief that through the power of education, we can EMPOWER certain sectors of society, and elevate their causes.                        

As future Officers-of-the Court, we hope to fulfill our mission as guardians of truth, justice, and equity. This in mind, we are happy to officially partner with the DAILY GUARDIAN. Sharing their vision (to be an independent guardian of truth and justice, socially responsive and un-compromising exponent of positive change and public enlightenment), our rookie spirits wish to paint a society on a canvass of social order and justice under the rule of law.

Service is the pacemaker of lawyering. EMPOWER believes that it is through our social involvement that we can create change in our society. Beyond the strict letters of the law, with our little hands, we wanted to contribute to the proper administration of justice.

For the first run of the project, we chose to champion Women’s Rights in celebration of the International Women’s Month.

 

LEGAL SOUND WAVES

EMPOWER partnered with BOMBO RADYO’s Dura Lex Sed Lex. Atty. Alonette Ragodo-Perez of the Public Attorney’s Office discussed the substantive aspects of RA 9262. The second wave of legal lectures was then conducted by Atty. Jonnie Dabuco, Regional Director OIC of the Commission of Human Rights discussed the procedural aspects of RA 9262.

 

GIRL POWER: A Football Fest for a Cause

EMPOWER, in partnership with La Legis Football Club of the USA-College of Law, also hosted a one-day Football Fest last. The proceeds went to a bookshelf that was donated to the DSWD Home for Girls.

 

BABAYE, BULAHAN KA!

For International Women’s Day, EMPOWER launched BABAYE, BULAHAN KA! : A Photo and Artwork Exhibit at Herrera Hall Lobby of the University of San Agustin. The exhibit featured artworks of HIMBON, a group of Ilonggo artists featuring different faces of women, Inday Dolls of Hilway – dolls personally sewn by women inmates of BJMP, photo entries of the students of UP Visayas College of Management and students of USA College of Law. The Art and Photo Exhibit was also joined by the Commission of Human Rights, Public Attorney’s Office and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

 

WOMEN AS ECONOMIC DRIVERS

As an extension of EMPOWER’s information drive campaign, the project extended its reach to the Shops at Atria. The campaign featured women as economic drivers and catalysts for change. EMPOWER shares a firm belief with Women Champion Farmers of Lambunao, the Sustainable Livelihood Program of DSWD and Inday Dolls, that women too can also be active economic partners in our society. Women’s roles in nation-building are not only confined to home management. They are also active economic drivers.

 

PAGHILIUGYON: LEGAL FORUM

EMPOWER is started with PAGHILIUGYON: An Anti-Violence Against Women Awareness campaign and Legal Counseling. With one firm belief: That Together, in raising awareness, we can break the chain, empower women and help end violence During the legal forum, key roles of different sectors (private, government agency and law enforcement) were revisited in order to identify problem areas in addressing violence against women and their children. EMPOWER hosted another legal forum in Dingle to discuss the salient features of RA 9262.

 

OUTREACH ACTIVITY

The month-long project ended with an outreach activity at the Department of Social Welfare and Development Home for Girls.  The center is a haven for children victims of domestic violence, abuse, and rape.

Today, where half-truths and half-lies blend in a single rhythm, in the ever changing time where values and ideals are displaced, we felt the need to take an active role, in a rather different note of nation-building, that is, to educate, to EMPOWER and to elevate legal causes.

Most of us view the law as a complex algorithm. The same belief that fuels our understanding that the professional service of a lawyer is a luxury. We only seek legal remedies when we are left high and dry, our souls about to be pitched in the limbo of legal battle.

EMPOWER envisions a future where laws are understood by laymen. We envision a future where strong letters of laws will fully serve its intent. 

Through educating, empowering and elevating causes, EMPOWER and the DAILY GUARDIAN want to fill-in those BLANK spaces we have created.