RETIRED Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has challenged the graduates of the University of the Philippines (UP)-Cebu Class of 2020 to be at the forefront of restoring humanism.
Morales’ call for students to devote themselves to human welfare was the content of her keynote speech delivered online during the university’s valediction for its graduates on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020.
The former Supreme Court associate justice said the society today has been experiencing grim challenges to humanity, including the culture of conflict and violence, culture of death (extrajudicial killings), insensitivity to killings and human rights violations, and intolerance to others because of differences.
She said the “people’s failure to recognize one another as fellow human beings on a shared journey and to care for one another is at the root of all these, which ought to be resolved if humanity is to pass the test of the current pandemic.”
Morales said the society is now in the middle of a “war of dehumanization.”
Quoting a scholar, she said the internet is in great danger of becoming invariably a locus of dehumanization “where users are reduced to avatars and data while they surf as consumers of often deceptive content.”
As to the political leaders who capitalize on national identity and popular support, Morales said these politicians dehumanize people by behaving as if these people are “no more than mobs at their call to attack and silence critics, and to call as legitimizers via approval ratings of their malgovernance.”
Focus on values
She said humanism in law schools has been gaining support since the 1970s, and she calls for a more values-focused legal education with renewed attention to the human element in the law—the human beingness of law teachers, students and clients.
“If the trial judge had found her humanism early on, would not jailed activist Reina Mae Nasino have had the chance to hug for the last time her still alive infant baby?” she said.
She then asked the UP graduates and faculty to contemplate on using communication channels fearlessly to give voice to the voiceless; on the use of technology, numbers and businesses for the common good; and to practice the law in a grand manner rather than weaponize it to keep a solid grip on power. (WBS)