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At Large

Rags-to-service, the tale of Pilo Hilbay

/ 05:20 AM December 05, 2018

The first time I saw Florin “Pilo” Hilbay “in action” was when he appeared before the Supreme Court to argue the government side on the case filed by some so-called “prolife” groups questioning provisions of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health law.

As it turns out, he confesses to our group of media folk over a recent lunch, it was “the first time I ever argued a case before the Supreme Court,” and if my memory serves me right, his rookie nerves weren’t obvious. At the time, Hilbay was the newly minted replacement for former solicitor general Francis Jardeleza, who had just been appointed as associate justice. So, one can imagine the added pressure arguing a case before his former boss.

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Hilbay’s narrative is straight out of a telenovela, a rags-to-riches tale that begins with his birth and boyhood in Tondo, then his leap out of his parents’ genteel poverty through education, with a scholarship to the UST Education High School, a “laboratory” school established to train aspiring teachers, then majoring in economics in the Pontifical University, then on to UP for law studies.

But his life journey since then has taken him to soaring heights: ranking first in the 1999 bar exams, then becoming the youngest member of the UP College of Law faculty the next year. In 2005, he obtained his master of laws degree from Yale

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Law School.

Such an impressive record would have been enough to catapult Hilbay to a noteworthy (and rewarding) career in a top law firm. But instead, he chose to go into public service, working for seven years with former senator Jovito Salonga in Bantay Katarungan, an anticorruption group, then being appointed as senior state solicitor in 2014 before being appointed solicitor general the next year, becoming the youngest to occupy the post.

Here, Pilo Hilbay led the country’s contingent to The Hague to argue the country’s case over ownership of the West Philippine Sea. Leaving government, Hilbay has lent his legal services to cases involving such personalities as Leila de

Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV. Something which doesn’t endear him to PDuts, I bet, and all Duterte underlings and supporters.

All the more reason to give Pilo Hilbay, along with the other seven “Oposisyon Koalition” candidates to the Senate, a chance to serve in that chamber.

* * *

Buried beneath the daily avalanche of news are the protests raised against a policy of Pines City Colleges (PCC) in Baguio requiring women students in the colleges of dentistry, nursing and pharmacy to take a pregnancy test.

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Not only does such a policy violate the privacy and rights of students, it also requires them to shell out P150 as “test fee,” paying for their own degradation, it seems.

Among other groups, the women’s health service and advocacy group Likhaan (disclosure: I sit on its board of trustees) issued a statement calling for “a more sympathetic understanding of pregnancy, its effects on women and women’s different attitudes toward disclosure.” The statement argues how such a policy “can actually harm women and their pregnancies.”

Earlier, PCC said the policy requiring a pregnancy test was meant to “protect” both mother and child in the event a student was found pregnant. But Likhaan, which serves women and children in impoverished communities, says that “presumptions that pregnancy is precarious and that college activities or environs expose pregnant women and their babies to harm are greatly exaggerated.” Besides, the statement points out, “the tests can be self-administered, and therefore do not require involvement of doctors or medical staff.”

My own suspicions are that the mandatory pregnancy tests are a means of monitoring their students’ behavior, particularly their sexual activity, which is none of their business. Besides, it makes a young woman solely responsible for her pregnancy, while leaving her partner, who may have used deception or coercion, scot-free.

Likhaan points out that there are other ways by which the college could protect their students from unwanted pregnancy and other dire consequences of early sex. Such as giving them full and honest information and formation on sexuality, reproductive rights, and ways of protecting themselves from early or unwanted pregnancy.

rdavid@inquirer.com.ph

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TAGS: At Large, Florin Hilbay, mandatory pregnancy testing, Pines City Colleges, Rina Jimenez-David
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