Speech of Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye during the Aquila Legis Law Fraternity Convention
Manila Hotel, (26 February 2005)
Allow me, first of all, to convey the greetings of Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to the Aquila Legis on the occasion of its 56th anniversary.
In 1949, 21 second and third year students of the Ateneo Law School got together to form a fraternity. It was the very first fraternity in the Philippines with a Latin name: Aquila Legis, or Eagle of the Law.
The founding members, among them, Brod Tito Guingona and Brod Gabby Singson, sought to promote camaraderie among the frat and to foster the ideals for which the Ateneo Law School stands: to nurture Catholic lawyers and to produce leaders in every field of human endeavor.
Without any doubt, we can say today that we have lived up to the ideals of the Aquila Legis.
The Frat has always been a most treasured part of the life of its members. It has played a major role in molding an Aquilan's personality, and in his transformation from a regular law student into a professional and zealous guardian of the law.
Aquilans have excelled in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. They are in the active practice of law, in business, in the diplomatic service, in the academe and even in banking.
Our resident Brods, continue to dominate not only academically but also lead in the extra-curricular activities of the College of Law.
Our fraternity has grown over the years with the establishment of chapters in practically every region in the Philippines.
Many members have sought opportunities in America, Australia, Africa and Asia and we welcome some of them tonight in this august gathering of brothers.
Wherever we are, and wherever we go, the meaning of brotherhood of Aquila Legis remains.
Fidelitas ex Lege. These words continue to ring strong in our hearts.
We remain ready to help one another. Side by side we stand to promote common causes taught us in the College of Law.
We have had our ups and downs but we have always risen. We have lived up to our Fraternity code. We have remained brave. And we have remained strong.
As we look to the future, we must continue to unceasingly aspire for relevance not only within the campus of our beloved alma mater and in the legal profession, but more so in the larger context of society.
We must always strive, just like our patron saints and guides , St. Ignatius and St. Thomas, to be men for others.
The Edsa People Power revolution whose 19th anniversary we celebrated yesterday was a defining moment for the Filipino people. It was the culmination of several years of struggle against a political tyranny.
The people came together across class and gender, religion and occupation to join hands for freedom and a new beginning.
The Filipinos' show of solidarity against what seemed, at that time, to be insurmountable odds during those four days in February, 1986 has inspired other peoples in South Korea, Poland, Pakistan and the rest of the world to pursue their own march toward democratization.
Suppressed freedoms were restored in the aftermath of Edsa and among the biggest beneficiaries are the media, many of whom now tend to forget and even denigrate Edsa's significance .
To me, the lesson of Edsa will never be lost. I never felt prouder to be a Filipino than when I stood among the faceless multitude who went to Edsa and braved the tanks, armed with nothing but a prayer and a hope.
Edsa will be difficult to replicate. It was a classic fight between freedom and oppression, between hope and despair.
Edsa will always be relevant as a reminder of what solidarity of the people can do.
Edsa should always remind us that while we have disposed of a political tyranny, there are other tyrannies to dismantle.
The tyranny of corruption, for instance, remains well-entrenched and continues to oppress our people and prevent them from leading a better quality of life.
It has sapped our economy of much needed blood that could otherwise have gone to health, education, clean water, electricity to the far flung barangays.
It has made us less competitive in the eyes of the world.
While even the World Bank has acknowledged that much work has been done in battling corruption, such as in the implementation of the e-procurement program and in the conduct of life-style checks, we have to do much more.
Yesterday , President Gloria chose Edsa, site of the People Power Revolution, for the signing of the UN Declaration Against Corruption.
Under the accord, signatory countries will enact measures that will qualify a wide range of corrupt practices as major crimes if they are not yet declared as such under existing domestic laws.
Commitments of Support and Cooperation Agreements were also signed in Edsa yesterday between the Coalition against Corruption, led by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and the Makati Business Club, on one hand, and seven government agencies, on the other.
Under the various agreements, the Coalition will assist government agencies identify and address operational problems in the fight against corruption.
The agreement calls for the training of observers from the private sector to observe proceedings in government bids and awards committees, to monitor the acquisition and supply of textbooks of the Department of Education, to monitor purchases and supply of medicines of the Department of Health, to monitor the availability and utilization of Internal Revenue Allotment of Local Government Units through the Internal Revenue Allotment Watch.
Edsa should remind us that we have it in our power to slay the dragon of corruption but only if we work together.
Edsa should remind us that the time has come to once again galvanize the nation around common purpose, individual responsibility and government accountability.
In order for our nation to move forward, Aquilans who have had the benefit of a better education and better opportunities should take on the responsibility of leading others.
Leading others need not be in grand or public ways. One does not have to hold public office or be publicly recognized in order to lead.
Rather, the true test of leadership, of our commitment, our core values and fundamental principles, lies in the quiet, even unseen moments of the day-to day- how we live our lives, the small choices we make; the simple daily acts.
It is said that the true test of a person's character is in the small things when no one else is watching.
By your good example - by living lives imbued with integrity, truthfulness and fairness - the people within your sphere of influence, starting with your own families, your clients and their families, will surely be inspired , perhaps even without their knowing it, to follow suit.
My brother Aquilans, I know you will be equal to the task.
We have within ourselves, the power to transform our nation and propel it to the greatness it deserves.
Let us strengthen ourselves, individually and collectively, for that one big fight.
Let me end by repeating our Fraternity Song:
Onward, My Brother
Side by side, we stand
Let our cry be heard on high,
Fly Higher! Brother Fly!
Hail Praeses! Aquila! Aquila! Aquila!
Long live Aquila Legis!
Long live the Philippines!
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