Lawyer of Hacienda Luisita farmers, nominated for Ombudsman post

May 16, 2011

Lawyer of Hacienda Luisita farmers, nominated for Ombudsman post
By Jaime Pilapil

The lawyer of a group of farmers of Hacienda Luisita has been nominated on Monday for the post of Ombudsman before the Judicial Bar Council.

Marlon Juliano Manuel, 41, currently executive director of Ateneo de Manila University-based Alternative Law Groups (ALG), a coalition of twenty non-government organizations in the Philippines that adhere to the principles and values of alternative or social development-oriented law practice, was nominated to replaced resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.

Supporters of Manuel trooped to the JBC secretariat at the Supreme Court office on Padre Faura Street, Manila in the morning to beat the deadline of the submission of nominations.

In separate letters to the JBC, former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) undersecretary Hector Soliman and noted constitutionalist Christian Monsod pushed for the appointment of d Manuel, saying the latter’s experience as human rights lawyer and his “passion for justice” make him deserving to be the next Ombudsman.

“The underperformance of the Office of the Ombudsman, in its critical task of being the people’s champion against anything illegal, improper, unjust or inefficient in government, is largely due to the fact that the appointing power invariably looks only at the legal credentials of the nominees,” said Monsod.

“Marlon has honed his skills over the years in the area of litigation, having appeared in all levels of judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals, including the Supreme Court. He combines practical skillss in the courtroom with his academic knowledge as a professor of constitutional law,” added Soliman.

Manuel, a 5th placer in 1994 Bar exam, is currently the national coordinator of ALG aside from teaching law at the college of laws of Ateneo de Manila University and the University of Sto. Tomas.

He finished law at Ateneo de Manila University School of Law Juris Doctor in 1994. He was second honors, an Evelio Javier Leadership awardee for having been elected president of the Ateneo Law Student Council (1993-1994).

He also also took his undergraduate at Ateneo de Manila University, College of Arts and Sciences 1990, major in Legal Management and a dean’s lister. He graduated salutorian in high school at St. Augustine College in Baliuag, Bulacan; an honorable mention in elementary at St. Mary’s Academy also in Baliuag, Bulacan.

“He is a bar topnotcher, professor of law, public interest litigator, justice educator, good governance & justice reform advocate, human rights defender, organizational and project management expert, regional and international worker, author. He is an embodiment of competence, probity an integrity. An independent Ombudsman starts with Marlon J. Manuel,” said Raymond Salas of the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN), where Manuel spent 10 years as executive director after a brief stint as associate of the SyCip Salazar Hernandez and Gatmaitan law offices.

Manuel, 41, is a fellow of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), a non-stock, non-profit, social research organization. He is also curretly the lead counsel of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association.

Since 1996, he has gained one and a half decades of experience in social justice and human rights lawyering.

Among the most notable cases that Manuel has handled were the public interest cases against Executive Order 464, Proclamation 1017; the attempt to change the 1987 Constitution, where he had the opportunity to speak before the Supreme Court during the respective oral arguments of the three cases; the case involving the farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon, where he served as one of the farmers’ lead counsel.

He is also at present a partner at Dellosa Mendoza Bag-ao and Manuel (DMBM) law firm.

He is currently a member of the executive committee of Legal Network for Truthful Elections.

Manuel had been consistently involved in public interest cases, representing vulnerable and marginalized groups, such as workers, farmers, women, indigenous peoples and local communities.

In 2000, he acted as counsel for a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs) that challenged the constitutionality of a provision in the year 2000 General Appropriations Act which placed P10 Billion of the local governments’ Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) under “Unprogrammed Funds”. In an en banc decision that was rendered in 2005 (ACORD v. Zamora, G.R. No. 144256), the Supreme Court granted the petition and declared the Year 2000 GAA unconstitutional insofar as it set apart P10 Billion of the IRA as “Unprogrammed Funds”.

In 2007 and 2008, Manuel was involved as one of the lawyers of the farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon, who challenged San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) ownership of a 144 hectare land that had earlier been given to the farmers under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Manuel is a member of the editorial board of the Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, a new cross-disciplinary journal devoted to academic and practitioner analysis of rule of law promotion. ###

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