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Reaction Paper on the Discussion of Justice Mario Victor Leonen Understanding the Anatomy of Political Conflict: Reflections on the

Concept and Dispute Processing of Public Issues The forum presided by Justice Leonen served to be an eye-opener on the realities of life. Indeed, conflict has become a common fact of everyday, and to survive in this world of chaos, a person must learn how to embrace conflict. The youngest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court shared the story of how a lawyer proved that his profession came first before all the others. The lawyer said that, in the beginning, there was chaos, and because of chaos, there should be a lawyer. It could either be because the lawyer started the chaos, or the lawyer comes out of chaos. This story shows how lawyers and conflict exist simultaneously. Lawyers are essential in every conflict. As a matter of fact, there will be no lawyer if there is no conflict. If there is no conflict, lawyers will not exist. It cannot be denied that we live in a life that is full of conflict; hence, as future lawyers, I have realized that I should start looking at conflict in a different light. Justice Leonen mentioned that we can approach conflict in two ways. The first view is conflict as an obstacle. It may be looked upon as something that adversely affects our health, and causes us stress. On the other hand, conflict may also be viewed as a challenge, and opportunity for growth. As the main speaker said, there is no gain when there is no pain. Because Ive always wanted to see the good in every situation, I choose to adopt the second view. Yes, conflicts provide an avenue to improve ourselves in many ways. This includes learning the values of patience, understanding, empathy, and selflessness, all of which are not easily learned overnight. Resolving conflicts involves more than looking at a set of facts. However, the facts that may have happened in real life may be different from that which can be proven in court. Lawyers are often limited or prevented from pursuing other facts for the lack of evidence thereof, as the law would then consider these facts as irrelevant. Courts can only act upon evidence. I would agree with Justice Leonen when he said that justice will only be truly achieved when the truth as the people would understand it would resonate with the truth as the court can establish. I was able to feel greater appreciation to the role of lawyers in society. People approach lawyers when they are in need of help or assistance. In fact, lawyers are sometimes referred to as the last resort, which may imply the parties desperation. This puts the lawyers in a very important position of changing peoples lives, an opportunity of which gives incredible power to the members of the legal profession. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. Thus, the lawyer must always remember not to abuse such power for personal intent or gain. The essence of resolving conflict is basically to attain an amicable settlement between the conflicting parties. This aim may sometimes be overlooked by other lawyers when they are blinded by their hunger for power or recognition. It has often been observed in the courts of justice that the value of the subject matter in litigation is less than the actual debt. Justice Leonen raised the question, why is it that the parties did not simply pay the debt? It is because some lawyers forget that their calling in the legal profession is to resolve conflicts, which they can achieve morally, ethically, and even legally without going to court. That is why, it is imperative that the lawyer never forgets that, in resolving conflicts, it is never about you. Instead, focus should be given on the needs and wants of the disputants, and not their own. Lawyers are supposed to be instruments of their clients. When the ego and interests of the lawyers are placed higher than that of the clients, it is when injustice using the court system begins. Another valuable insight that I got from Justice Leonen is that it is always better to listen and understand when resolving conflicts. When we become lawyers, we should not allow the law or our own life experiences to hinder us from paving the way for alternative means. Finally, the most important lesson I learned from the forum is the value of trust. This should be a first and foremost requirement in resolving conflicts. Trust is an element you cannot quantify, but is strengthened through confidence-building measures. I personally believe that this was the reason of Justice Leonens success in the Bangsamoro negotiations. He narrated how he personally lived and mingled with the Bangsamoros during the process. Negotiations are only successful when the conflicting parties trust in the sincere intentions of the other.