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A Lawyer-like Life of a Religious Nun

A Lawyer-like Life of a Religious Nun

Never have I thought that my life as a religious nun would turn into something scary and more demanding as I am trying to live my vows faithfully.

During my high school days in Lilo-an Southern Leyte I used to attend court hearings if I had a vacant period. I could still remember how an uncle lawyer who was a distant relative defended his clients. I admired him so much because he used to defend those who could not afford to pay a lawyer. I had no idea yet why he was doing it. On the other hand, another lawyer was defending perpetrators who argued aggressively.

Earlier on, my father used to tease me that the best profession I should have in the future is to be a lawyer. He kept telling me that I loved to engage in arguments and most of the time, I won. I kept replying to my father, “I do not want to be a lawyer because lawyers lie in order to win.”

The above thought was changed when I became a missionary in the prisons and detentions centers in Senegal, West Africa. I used to bridge between those persons deprived with liberty and lawyers who are trying to help those incarcerated. I realized that for a thousand detainees/persons deprived of liberty, there is a lone lawyer who is available. I asked myself what if I followed my father’s suggestion? Maybe I could be of help. “Justice delayed is justice denied” kept ringing in my head after my eight years in the prison ministry.

When I came back from the mission and was assigned to San Andres Bukid, a huge challenge was given to me. Duterte came to power and launched the war on drugs in July 2016. Unfortunately, it is the poor who are victimized while the real drug lords are at large and well protected. Trumped up allegations and planted evidence were fabricated that left the poor victims helpless.

As the killings in San Andres intensified, I could not just keep quiet and pray. Something should be done. I believe that the best thing that we can do is to have a legal means of stopping the killings. With the help of Bishop Broderick Pabillo, I connected myself with Centerlaw. This law firm was very instrumental in stopping the killings. Attorney Christina Antonio-Butuyan and her companions faithfully helped us in our mission. They equipped us with knowledge through training of our basic human rights. This empowered me, our mission partners, members of the Basic Ecclesial Communities, families and relatives of EJK victims. Those who underwent the basic human rights seminars were able to face and tame their fears every time uniformed or civilian-clothed men walked around.

I found myself studying cases and reading several laws related to our mission. I found myself gathering evidence and investigating witnesses. Truly a taste of lawyer-like life really happened to me. If my father were still alive today, I am sure he will be happy but scared for the mission I have. Afterall, a lawyer-like mission is not that easy and it is really scary.

Sr. Nenet R. Daño, RGS, RSW

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