Feisty Lorna Kapunan
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - February 3, 2016 - 9:00am

There’s good reason to have more women in Philippine legislative bodies.

Right now, women make up 27 percent of current elected officials in the country, making  the country rank seventh in the gender equality index. But the  ideal is to have 40 percent women in the country’s legislative posts.  Thus far, Chile requires 40 percent women among elective officials.

In the Philippine Senate, there are 18 male senators, and six female senators. That means only 25 percent of our senators are women.

We should have 40 percent women senators in the 17th  Congress. As of now, not one of the six female senatorial candidates have been ranked as nearing the top 14 slots.

I had a chat with Lorna Kapunan, a senatorial candidate, after her board meeting at  the Philippine Red Cross of which she is a governor.  She candidly admitted she will have to work hard for a seat, as she does not have the vast resources of other aspirants.  “You have to shell out one half million pesos to have a one-minute television commercial. I don’t have that kind of money.” She did not mention how much she will have to spend in her campaign sorties.

Those who know Lorna’s competence know the reality of having logistics to become a member of the Senate, an institution that is supposed to belong to people with intelligence, experience, commitment, knowledge of the Constitution and the laws of the land, and people’s rights. Unfortunately, many celebrities and the  moneyed have been able to grab seats.

The human rights lawyer of 37 years has been known mostly as a lawyer to celebrities like James Yap,  basketball star and former husband of Kris Aquino, doctor Hayden Kho, and actress Rhian Ramos. But her most controversial client was Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the pork barrel scam.

Lorna explained that she was Napoles’ lawyer only for  the kidnapping charge lodged against her by her employee who became the whistle blower that exposed the pork barrel scam.

Lorna withdrew from the case on account of differences with Napoles’ lawyers handling Napoles’ other cases.

Kapunan, 63, is one of the leading litigation lawyers in the country. Her legal expertise is extensive and includes licensing law, franchising, corporate and commercial  law, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, international humanitarian law, family law, estate law and succession.

She has been working on cases, pro bono, involving human rights victims and beleaguered media writers. After 15 years, the  Supreme Court decided in favor of her clients – flight attendants, who were dismissed for being 50 years old and over.

Why has she decided  to enter politics? “In my 38 years of law practice,” she said, “I have been blessed to put up my law office, and I have a good number of clients.”

“The Senate needs me, I am competent, experienced,  a passionate fighter for what I believe is  right,” she said. Which is why her clarion call is Laban Para Sa Karapatan (Fight for your Rights).

“I’m  carrying an agenda of hope. People are angry with the present system, they are cynical, thinking there is no hope for this country. I’m angry but I’m not desperate. I believe there is hope.”

Poor people, she said, should  have free laboratory and surgical expenses people’s rights to health, and marginalized, women and children, solo parents, senior citizens, ancestral tribes, fisher folk and farmers should be given opportunities to improve their conditions.

As to having peace in Mindanao, government should emphasize working for productivity and prosperity that benefit Mindanaonons, as 20 percent of the island’s resources go to Luzon and the Visayas.

Lorna  is for the attainment of a lasting peace in Mindanao. Nevertheless, she  believes that  the Bangsamoro Basic Law needs further study and analysis.

If elected, she will work on anti-dynasty, fair competition and anti-monopoly laws.

She said college education should be free, and its curriculum should be geared towards science, touches on climate change, and is directed at employment and the environment.

Lorna  has degrees in political science and law from the University of the Philippines and attended  seminar courses in prestigious institutions in Tokyo, Italy, and the United Kingdom.

She started her career in law with the Angara Abello Concepcion Regala and Cruz (ACCRA), served as a senior partner of Roco Kapunan Migallos Perez & Luna Law Offices. In 2009 she founded and is senior partner of the Kapunan Lotilla Garcia & Castillo Law Offices. Her firm owns the distinction of being the first and only law firm to have been conferred the institutional Spirituality Quotient (ISQ) Award by the Bishops/Businessmen Conference, and is a member of the international Lawyers  Network.

She has a number of professional involvements throughout her legal career.  She is an awardee of the Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) in the field of corporate law.

Lorna  is the daughter of retired Supreme Court Justice Lino M. Patajo and Cristeta Taaca Patajo, past dean of Manila Doctors School of Nursing. She is the widow of former RTC Judge Eduardo Roden E. Kapunan, her classmate at the UP law school. She has five sons and two grandsons. Her eldest son, Lino, is now a partner in her law firm.

An advocate for women’s and children’s rights and the environment, she is the first to have obtained a Writ of Kalikasan from the Supreme Court for the  West Tower/Barangay Bangkal oil spill case. She is the legal counsel of Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME), which advocates economic nationalism and champions the fight against poverty and corruption in all branches of the government.

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The Farm Tourism Stakeholders’  Meet-up Event 2 will be held at Flor’s Garden in Antipolo, on Feb. 6,  under the theme, “Cultivating Tourism in Family Farms/Small Farms.”

Sen. Cynthia Villar is attending the event, with the participation of Department of Tourism director Becky Lanit, and Gigi Moris, a natural farmer from Batangas and fashion designer from Las Vegas.

The event is sponsored by Family Farm Tourism Network, an informal group made up of family farm/small farm owners, farmers, agritourists, farm-to-table advocates and travel enthusiasts.

The network promotes farm tourism in rural areas. There are many family farms engaged in small-scale production, with the farm owners directly involved in the operations  of the farms.

Farm stays are a popular concept in many Western states. The recent passing of the Farm Tourism bill is an opportunity for family farmers to promote agriculture.

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Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

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