The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), a group of lawyers and law students passionately committed to the service of the Filipino people, the marginalized, the underdog, the exploited and the oppressed, deeply mourns the passing of our much loved and admired founding chair and chairman emeritus Romeo T. Capulong at the age of 77.
Fondly known to us as RTC, he finally rested his case on the evening of Sept. 16 as if he was just waiting for the conclusion of NUPL’s National Council meeting in the afternoon of that day, which was convened on the occasion of our fifth founding anniversary.
RTC battled a lingering illness. He is survived by his wife Pia and three children. His passion, selflessness, dedication, wisdom and vision inspired people’s lawyers and law students immensely, both here and abroad. As the first among us, he built an excellent example in both law and life for lawyers to follow.
RTC, a son of a share tenant-farmer, began to establish himself as an eminent legal scholar right out of the University of the Philippines College of Law. He used his skills to defend the rights of the marginalized—the peasants, workers, urban poor, students, women, political prisoners, human rights defenders, peace advocates and other oppressed sectors of society—long before the idea of alternative lawyering secured a foothold in the Philippine legal system. He represented the common man, the underdog and those who chose to fight back against an oppressive and exploitative system.
RTC’s devotion to his chosen clients was rooted in personal and professional solidarity. He handled public interest cases with the aim of effecting substantial changes, not simply quick relief. He engaged in litigation on behalf of basic sectors, driven by the desire to empower the people.
Our loss then is the people’s loss.
As a guiding pillar of NUPL, RTC ably and indefatigably guided—and still guides—us in our commitment to serve the poor, the exploited and the oppressed in our legal and “meta-legal” struggles in different battlefields, goading us to push the parameters and serve the people.
His ringing words will forever be etched in our hearts and minds: “After long years of experience as a people’s lawyer, I can honestly say it has been a treasured journey of self-fulfillment and rewarding achievement. I know it will be the same for all others who choose to tread this path.”
We fully agree beyond any shadow of doubt.
People’s lawyers like Romy Capulong never die. They just live in the work of the next generations of people’s lawyers.
Mabuhay si RTC! Ang manananggol ng bayan! Tuloy tayo na lumaban!
—EDRE U. OLALIA,
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers,