Environmental Leaders Back Lawyer Marlon Manuel as “People’s Ombudsman”

Environmental leaders have signified their support to the nomination of public interest lawyer Marlon J. Manuel as the “People’s Ombudsman.”

In a letter sent today to Chief Justice Renato Corona, Chair of the Judicial Bar Council, they threw their support behind Manuel, one of the 27 candidates to the post vacated by Merceditas Gutierrez who resigned amid corruption allegations.

In backing Manuel’s appointment, the environmentalists called attention to his unblemished career as a public interest litigator, a human rights educator and as a social justice and environmental defender, and his relatively young age of 41.

Among those endorsing Manuel’s appointment were Father Peter Montallana, recipient of the 2011 “Father Neri Satur Award for Environmental Heroism”; Manny Calonzo, recipient of the 2009 “Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan”; and Von Hernandez, 2007 “Time Hero for the Environment” and recipient of the 2003 “Goldman Environmental Prize for Asia.”

Also backing Manuel’s nomination were environmentalists Noli Abinales, Betty Cabazares,Lia Esquillo, Rodne Galicha, Albert Gavino, Romy Hidalgo, Neneng Jocson, Marie Marciano, Atty. Amang Mejia, Dr. Helen Mendoza, Sonia Mendoza, Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Rene Pineda, and Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos.

“Atty. Manuel’s steadfast advocacy for the least and the last in our society, his consistent defense of the poor against the excesses of the wealthy and influential proves he will be not be swayed by fear, favor or riches as Ombudsman,” said Atty. Amang Mejia, counsel of the EcoWaste Coalition.

The leaders gave Manuel high marks for “his deep appreciation of the struggles and hopes of the poor, including their yearning for a clean and responsive government,” which makes him “a most fitting representative of the public” they said.

“As the ‘people’s Ombudsman’ who is not beholden to business or political interests, we can expect him to execute law and justice with resolve, fairness and speed and with the national welfare in mind,” said Dr. Helen Mendoza, a respected climate action and justice advocate.

“Atty. Manuel’s track record that combines litigation, policy reform and community outreach, including the provision of human rights education to the grassroots, has contributed to his authentic understanding of the needs and aspirations of the common tao,” the environmental leaders noted.

P-Noy’s anti-corruption “Social Contract with the Filipino,” the leaders insisted, “will benefit from having a much younger lawyer who is ready and able to fulfill the exacting job associated with being the country’s Ombudsman. “

“At 41, Atty. Manuel will not only hit the ground running, but also complete the arduous job of the Ombudsman with nothing but the interest of our country and our people in mind,” they observed.

Manuel is the Coordinator of the Alternative Law Groups (ALG), a coalition of twenty groups involved in social development-oriented legal assistance and practice. He also teaches at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law and at the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law.

Former Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) undersecretary Hector Soliman and former Commission on Elections chairman Christian Monsod separately nominated Manuel as Ombudsman to the JBC.