Listen to the leaders of tomorrow | Inquirer Opinion
With Due Respect

Listen to the leaders of tomorrow

Yearly since 2017, the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity (FLP), in partnership with the Tan Yan Kee Foundation and the Ayala Corporation, awards scholarships at P200,000 each to at least 20 law students, and cash prizes in its dissertation writing contest (P320,000 first prize, P220,000 second prize, P120,000 for each of three third prizes, and P20,000 each to a max of 20 finalists). The faculty advisers get honoraria of P100,000 to P50,000.

During the awards ceremony last week, I — as FLP chair — hailed the awardees (and their predecessors who constitute the FLP Scholars Society) as the future presidents, lawmakers, Cabinet members, governors, mayors, justices, and judges of our country. Listen to excerpts of their responses and essays (full copies at


Jay-em Cuntapay (ADMU), 2021 first prize dissertation winner:

“In my case, I wanted to advocate for a more accelerated and nuanced vaccine development system by challenging the concept of ‘Viral Sovereignty,’ and by arguing that a virus should not be treated as a genetic resource over which states may assert sovereign rights. Eunice (Baliong), in her paper, advocated for the free trade and movement of essential medical tools and equipment in the context of a global pandemic. Catherine (Lim) advocated for the protection of biotechnological inventions in the context of emerging infectious diseases. Meanwhile, Trisha (Dulanes) advocated for the reinterpretation of Freedom of Thought to avoid the evils of Brain-Computer Interface, and finally, Noelle (De Vera) discussed the Investment Law consequences that come with the influx of Chinese foreign direct investments…


“The substance of all these entries affirms that the philosophy espoused by the Foundation goes beyond a mere abstract legal principle which only serves academic purposes. Rather, the philosophy… serves as a guiding principle in doing work that is meant to improve the lives of our countrymen and upholding the rights of the people for whose protection the law was made.” William Christian Dela Cruz (FSUU, Butuan), on behalf of the 21 new scholars:

“In a society beset by a pandemic, where every aspect of human conduct, however small, is regulated, people—be they rich or poor—feel the law and the power of the authorities crafting, executing, and interpreting the law.

“How is the law felt on the margins? Can people identify with the laws in place, especially now in the time of COVID? When some laws and rules are formulated from the standpoint of privilege, we forget that closing the borders of communities where the poor live for a long period of time without giving them adequate assistance is a life-and-death matter. When rules limit the movement of people significantly without giving them adequate help, we forget that most of our people do not earn monthly salaries and do not have paid leaves; we forget that there are laborers and market vendors who earn money on a daily basis. These are times when a significant portion of our population is most vulnerable. These people must be able to identify with the spirit of the law…’’ Here are snippets from their essays. From Jani Omamalin (USC): “Just as liberty belongs to one, it also belongs to another; consequently, one cannot expect to be protected from unwarranted interference, without likewise being expected of the same by others. The respect we expect from others is what we reciprocally owe them.”

From Paula Ramos (U Cordilleras): “Economic justice is not second to upholding our civil and political rights. It sits on the same throne and governs the same subjects. Moreover, economic prosperity is interdisciplinary—it is a multisectoral endeavor which requires focus limited not to economic but also to legal, social and political facets.”

From Daverick Pacumio (UST): “The rule of law is the great equalizer (among) all classes of people in society. It puts the rich and the poor; the employer and the employee; the strong and the weak, on an equal footing. The rule of law is one of the more visceral and direct ways to promote liberty and free the people from the constraints and give them an opportunity to prosper.”

From Cecilia Laza (SLU, Baguio): “Roots can reach the farthest surface and deepest depths of the soil. Trees, no matter how tall they grow, remain grounded. Similar to us as human beings, no matter how high we can climb up in the ladder of society, or how much we can progress as a nation or as a person, we must always remain grounded.”

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TAGS: Artemio V. Panganiban, FLP, Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity, tomorrow's leaders, With Due Respect
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