Cradle’s Next Step

Posted on 2017/06/06

The year was 2012 when Palawan Cradle of Rights (Cradle) came to fruition. The US Embassy -Manila conducted a 2-day seminar on legal aid at Palawan State University-School of Law. I was a 2nd year student that time. Nineteen eager and optimistic students, all sophomores, joined the group with the hopes of making a difference in the lives others through the concept of free legal assistance introduced to by the Embassy.

A month after the seminar, Cradle obtained legal personality after registering with the Security and Exchange Commission and other local government agencies. I was elected President for that school year. Most of our activities were information education campaigns in schools and in barangay halls. We spoke about protection of the environment, the Bill of Rights and other relevant laws such as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Anti-Bullying Act, and the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

The US Embassy provided several grants for us to organize and host several workshops and seminars. One notable event was in 2014 where more than 25 law students and during the culmination, their law deans, from different law schools in Mindanao came to Palawan to join the month-long Summer Internship Program. One of the activities during the internship was sending them to far-flung communities in Southern Palawan where they stayed with host families for a week. Most of these areas had no electricity and no cellular site. The students helped their host families with their livelihood and daily chores. At the end of the program, most of the host families where already attached to the students that they would even send some snacks they lovingly and meticulously prepared, this considering that food and water was scarce in their household.

One of the most significant program of the US Embassy for Cradle was in 2015 when two American lawyers from the International Seniors Lawyers Project (ISLP) came for a week-long school visit. They talked to the students, professors, and local government officials regarding the justice system, legal aid and, volunteerism.

During that time, I did not fully appreciate what their goal was- the institutionalization of Cradle. It was an alien concept. I thought what we were doing was enough. It was only very recently that I came to the full understanding that with Cradle’s institutionalization, more law students and more people would be benefitted.

We were and still remain to be a legal personality independent from the PSU- School of Law. All of our activities had the approval of our school’s administration not because it was necessary but because we deemed it appropriate to inform them. Now, I know we simply can not continue to be like this.

All of Cradle’s members have transferred to different schools or are currently 4th year students or, are preparing for the 2017 Bar examinations. Understandably, all are too busy to participate with any of our activities. Only three have been recently admitted to the legal profession, myself included.

With the institutionalization of Cradle, free legal assistance will no longer depend on the free time of a student. Legal aid would now become a means to be graded as part of school work. Yes, it may seem at first that the concept of volunteerism may be altogether abandoned. However, making it part of the school’s curriculum is simply a means to introducing all the students during their law school years, to a world where free legal assistance spells a huge difference in the lives of the indigents and the marginalized.

Studies in the United States have shown that legal aid as part of the curriculum have helped students perform better in school and have had a higher percentage in passing the Bar. But from my experience, it has taught me something far more valuable than anything else in this world- humanitarianism.

Cradle has a long way to go in the process of its institutionalization. There are still a lot of very important people to talk to and a lot of paperwork to file. But with resiliency, hard work, and passion for volunteerism, we will get there. It is our goal that someday the indigent people of Palawan will be given a new avenue to be heard of their grievances and for the next batch of law student-members to not just fully understand the concept of the laws but at the same time experience joy and altruism in helping others- something that can help mold them to become true champions of the Palaweno people.


Is an Non-Government Organization Catering Youth Services


Liceo Legal Aid Center (LiLAC) doing business under the name and style of Center for Alternative Lawyering of Liceo is the legal aid center of Liceo de Cagayan University, a privately owned university based in Cagayan de oro City. The group is composed of law students, alumni of the College of Law of the University, and lawyers who are passionate in the practice of alternative lawyering. LiLAC is guided by its vision of a holistic formation of law students committed to the transformation of society by promoting justice, empowerment, unity and peace, through helping the marginalized sector of the depressed areas here in Mindanao, in the Philippines and in the world. While the group was registered only this year with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it has been providing services to marginalized communities in partnership with NGOs for more than 8 years now. LiLAC has more than 50 members, 15 of whom are taking the active role of running the groups activities.

twitter: twitter.com/liceolegalaid
facebook: fb.com/liceolegalaidrn


The Mindanao State University Legal Aid Clinic or Mindanao SULAC for brevity, is the Legal Aid Clinic of Mindanao State University College of law. It is the first and currently the only one of its kind to be established in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It strives to cater the legal needs of the underprivileged and/or indigent clients of the Region and to help promote the proper administration of justice as a key to lasting peace in the region and in the country as a whole.

Office Address: 1F MSU College of Law Bldg.,
MSU Main Campus, Marawi City 9700 Philippines
Contact details:
Email: mindanaosulac@gmail.com
Mobile No.: (+63) 907 336 7762



The Notre Dame university is a Catholic Institution in Cotabato City run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and member of the Notre Dame Educational Association Philippines.The Notre Dame University Legal Aid Center started sometime in 2009. Its members are the officially enrolled students of NDU-College of Law.

The following are the official pages and e-mail address of the group:
FB: fb.com/ndulac
twitter: twitter.com/ndulac
Instagram: instagram.com/ndulac
email: ndulac@gmail.com


The Palawan Cradle of Rights is a unified composition of law students from Palawan State university school of Law, established last August 26, 2013 after the culminating activity of the Basic Orientation Seminar by the US Embassy in partnership with the MYVC.

Through our linkages and with the help of the different Government and Non-government organizations we aim to provide free access to people who need legal assistance.


The University of Mindanao Legal Aid Network (ULAN) is a non-stock, non-profit, and service institution of the University of Mindanao. As a service institution, it provides legal assistance, advocates human rights and social justice, and facilitates the formation of law students for alternative lawyering. It consists of law students and alumni of the College of Legal Education of the University of Mindanao committed to provide an adequate and greater access to justice of the community through its programs.


The CENTRO ADVOCACIA LEGAL is organized exclusively for charitable, socio-cultural and educational purposes, more specifically to serve the needs of the marginalized communities specifically children and youth and the minorities in Zamboanga City through Legal Aid Assistance and Human Rights Based Advocacies.