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Passion For What?

(What I Talk About When I Talk About Justice)


BY: DANIEL JOHN FORDAN

Fiat justitia ruat caelum. Let justice be done though the heavens fall the words that welcomed
Justice Pompeyo Diaz in his courthouse as the newly appointed judge of the Court of First
Instance for the Province of Rizal. Let justice be done. Justicebig word! In the world that we
live in right now, the word justice undeniably feels quite distant, unreal even. With all the
injustice around us, the concept of justice seems to be slipping farther and farther away. Indeed, a
saddening reality. Fellow graduates, let this serve as a strong reminder for us. This is precisely
why were here: to get rid of the injustice, to deliver justice. Now that we are going out of the
walls of the academia, the real world and its very real problems await us.
Justice Pompeyo Diaz once said that the law is the instrument used to discover the truth so that
justice may be served. As men of law then, our mission is to use our knowledge of the law so that
we can have a just society. We are institutionally tasked to seek the truth and to serve justice or,
in the words of Justice Diaz, to render each man what is his due. If the institution has already
established solutions against injustice, why then is injustice still freely roaming around wreaking
havoc everywhere? Amartya Sen may have the answer to this odd situation: behavioral
transgressions. Rooted from the Indian idea of justice known as nyaya, behavioral transgressions
rather than institutional shortcomings may be the source of this injustice. Actually, it makes a lot
of sense. Not just because one is tasked to do something, does not mean he will actually do the
task. This may be what is happening to some men of law. As Justice Diaz have pointed out, those
without conscience will twist the law to hide and distort the truth in order to ridicule justice.
Nyaya the idea of justice concerning with the actual outcome rather than the theoretical
possibility, a perspective focused on the actuality, the outcome, the tiny details. If we look
closely into the legal profession, we may find these conscienceless men lurking around. And if
we do find them, let us avoid them at all cost. Avoid getting close with them. Avoid becoming
like them. Rather, let us follow our mandate and render each man what is his due.

Once we actually do what we ought to do, is justice assured then? I think that to answer in the
affirmative is naivety. The disparity between what ought to be and what actually is is only one
of the many dimensions of injustice. For instance, what if there is indeed a structural flaw in our
society? An error in the system. A mistake in the institution. Surely, a problem like that cannot be
solved simply by obeying the institutional commands. In this case, the answer may lie in John
Rawls theory of justice. According to him, laws and institutions no matter how efficient and
well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. In other words, correct
execution will never be able to solve a problem brought about by the wrong instruction. A
change of instruction then, a fundamental change in the institution is in order. In the context of
injustice in the legal profession, perhaps something wrong in the legal education? Or inadequate
institutional measures against those conscienceless men of law? Whatever it may be, we must
remain critical of our institutions. Until we find what Rawls describes as the reflective
equilibrium, we must continuously develop and transform our laws and institutions. As Therese
Perez & Rufino Juan IV have pointed out, lawyers, as officers of justice must ceaselessly widen
the law until it can truly create justice.
Now that we have cleared out how justice may be delivered, let us now go into the topic of
justice itself. The peculiar thing about justice is its recursive nature. As we have observed, justice
can only be delivered when the actual and the theoretical aligns. In addition to that, it can only be
served when the laws and the institutions are not unjust. However, when you think about it, the
alignment of actual and theoretical is justice in itself in accordance to the idea of nyaya.
Likewise, reaching the reflective equilibrium to have a just institution is a manifestation of
justice. As we can see, justice is required so that justice may be delivered. Given this view,
something seems to be missing when it comes to the concept of justice. Oh, right. Endpoints.
Where do we start? What are we delivering really?
Let me offer you a solution to this apparent dilemma. Look at justice not as a single thing but as
a process a continuous recursive process. Wikipedia defines recursion as the process of
repeating items in a self-similar way. What does this mean? Let me show you an example. To
those who have mobile internet, try this. If you google the word recursion, google is going to say,

Did you mean: recursion, with a link pointing to the very same page asking you the same
question. But, yes clearly you meant recursion. Click the link again and it leads you to the same
page. Again. As if going out of the room through the exit only to find yourself back in the
entrance of the same room. A cycle in itself. Going on and on. Justice pretty much works the
same way as that. Justice over justice stacked with one another. In other words, it is like a selfsustaining order in society. It is not just the end but the means as well. Every step of the journey
towards a just society is justice. The whole journey itself is justice. The destination is justice.
That is the recursive process called justice. But, you may ask: it still has to start somewhere,
right? Well, of course!
It starts, however, from the negative. Going back to the googling of recursion, how did we get to
the looping page in the first place? By first realizing that there is a need to find recursion. We
tend to find what we know is missing. Realize that there is a need to find justice. Borrowing from
Sen, we should start from the recognition of injustice. Since it seems to be so difficult to start
from the point of view of justice, why not start with what is already available, right? As
appropriately quoted by Sen from Dickens, there is nothing so finely perceived and finely felt,
as injustice. This, my friends, is the next step. Perceive. Observe. Scrutinize. Now that we have
some knowledge of the law, let us use that to find out what is wrong and how it can be corrected.
Let us feel the injustice surrounding us. Let us open our eyes to the rampant inequality around
us. Only then will we be able to apply our knowledge of the law so that we may find the right
way towards a just society.
My friends, now that I have cleared the confusion that I created earlier about justice, allow me to
remind you about another important thing: passion. As Dean La Via have said, the most
important thing is to be passionate about your choices. We chose to be men of law. We chose to
be seekers of truth. We chose to be officers of justice. In order for us to be able to uphold our
choices, in order for us to fulfill our mandate, we must first have the passion to do so. Let us not
forget what Justice Pompeyo Diaz have taught us, What a man of the law should possess is a
passion for for the truth, a passion for justice. It is a passion to keep alive that eternal challenge
that justice must be done whatever be the cost. When what you do drift away from what you

ought to do, when you cease to criticize and transform unjust laws and institutions, when you
start to feel numb about the injustice around you, just remember that passion. Hold on to that.
Never let go.
Farewell and thank you!