Basic laws that all Filipinos should know
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 14, 2019 - 12:00am

My passion for teaching includes my advocacy for educating non-lawyers among our countrymen on the mysteries of the Philippine laws, especially those that directly impact on their lives. In my immediate community, my parish and even abroad when I worked in Malaysia, Taiwan and in Kuwait as diplomat, I have always been teaching BLAWSFIL, or Basic Laws For Filipinos on weekends. I did get paid for it whenever I taught on Saturdays and Sundays.


Until now, I am doing it and I am elated to see people becoming enlightened and empowered, and ready to use their knowledge of law as means to achieve peace and harmony. I teach law as a bridge of understanding both rights and obligations so that people shall live in sync with each other, respecting the boundaries and bridging the gaps.

Other lawyers would want a monopoly of legal wisdom and acumen so as to maintain the legal profession as mysterious and sacred as possible, and thus, expensive, and beyond the reach of the ordinary man in the street. I have a different paradigm. I want to unravel the gray areas so as to guide the ''hoi polloi'' along the black and white lanes of life, where right is separated from wrongs, and where lies are separated from the truths.

My feelings of joy and satisfaction always spring from the happy faces of my students who appreciated immensely my sharing of legal nuggets. In my foreign missions as labor attache, my audience were OFWs and expatriates and their spouses who were fascinated with the intricacies and the nuances of our legal systems, as I demystified law, and translated them into laymen's terms.

For instance, I teach the Family Code, and I lay down the duties and responsibilities of parents and children. I unravel the marriage protocols and its substances and styles, its rules and boundaries. I stress the duties and responsibilities of spouses to each other. And I emphasize that under current laws, marriage is only between men and women.

 Same-sex marriage is not in our books. I answer questions on valid, void and voidable marriages. I share the actual cases decided by the courts where marriages were annulled and legal separations were allowed but only on limited grounds. I remind each one that marriage is supposed to be an inviolable social institution that the law cherishes and protects. Thus couples should not play games with marriage and its implications and consequences.

I also teach property ownership and its modifications, like purchase and sale of real estate, and most importantly, the sharing of inheritance and legacies. I teach testate and intestate succession. I share with them the formula of sharing between husband and wife, between legitimate and illegitimate children, between ascendants and descendants, between direct lines of relatives and collateral.

I also tell them how to make their Last Will and Testament, to segregate the compulsory heirs from others, and how to share the free portion in a testate succession.  On another subject, I teach the bill of rights: what are the basic rights and the rights of persons in conflict with the law, those who are arrested and charged in court.

I have been a lawyer for more than 45 years, and I have been a teacher for a longer time. It has always been my source of joy and fulfillment to share my light with others. The world is full of darkness sown by the evil and scheming ones, and I choose to light just a little candle, instead of just cursing the dark. I choose to be a part of the solution than be a part of the problem. And I am immensely happy doing it.

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