By Jason Brian Avelino, Sophia Inez Bilbao, Coleen Edrea Ematong, and Jarre Gromea
Socrates, one of the so-called Big Three of Greek Philosophy once said: “The unexamined life is not worth living”. He meant that people must seek knowledge and wisdom before taking care of their respective private interests. Knowledge, in this regard, is the road to making ethical actions.
In the Philippines, majority of the members of the electorate have a bad habit of electing officials with a colorful political background and questionable morality. About half of the nation was appalled by the turnout of the 2016 presidential elections where we have elected as president a man who admitted to “killing” drug users and members of drug syndicates and even made part of his platform his plan of purging the nation of illegal drugs by murdering users and members of syndicates once he is elected into the highest position in the land. Murdering suspected drug peddlers stomps on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is also contrary to our own Constitution.
It is stipulated in the first paragraph of Section 3, Article 14 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution that: “All educational institutions shall include the study of the Constitution as part of the curricula”.
It is around the premise that the Constitution and its most vital provisions are taught to students that our group’s research has revolved. If indeed, students are learning about the Constitution, how is it that the majority of the electorate vote for leaders whose ideals are against its important provisions? Is it then safe to assume that this part of the Constitution is not properly enforced? If it is not enforced, what can be done? This is what we endeavor to resolve.
If the Constitution is taught to all students, if they understand the provisions under the Bill of Rights, if they have a good grasp of what human rights is- will they still vote for the same electoral candidates whose disregard for the laws and basic human rights is apparent? This research is entitled “Gauging the Depth of Legal Knowledge Among Undergraduates”. Throughout the whole time we have spent working on this research, Socrates’s contention that knowledge is the road to making ethical actions came into play.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
On Legal Education
Economides (2015) discusses legal education in five sections that detail the origin and historical evolution of legal education, its goals, the competing interests of its stakeholders, and then an analysis of formative influences to the legal profession. The different phases of legal education are discussed and analyzed.
Fenwick (2019) outlines how legal education has transformed in the digital age and the importance of Computer Code in the legal context. The authors discuss how the development of new skills will be needed in the future students of law and those in the legal profession in order to keep up with changing technology.
Gatmaytan (2018) discusses the indifference of the Filipino people to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in the absence of a “constitutional moment”. The author argues that a contributing factor to this is the 1987 constitution having been presented as an already “finished product” and not actually giving over a substantive decision making power to the people.
Maboloc (2017) examines the history of Philippine democracy. The author analyzes the ongoing legacy of colonialism in the country and how the nature of Philippine politics excludes marginalized sectors such as the poor and those of the Islamic faith. It is argued in this paper that change could only be brought about by systemic reforms and the decentralization of power.
Kusaka (2019) presents the gap between the urban poor and the middle class of Metro Manila. The author discusses how this gap is widened by political moralization and the “us vs. them” manner issues between the two classes are framed in Philippine politics.
This study utilized the mixed method of research to quantitatively measure the legal knowledge and political preferences of the respondents. It also determined the emergent themes on the respondents’ notion of Freedom of Speech and Expression using Qualitative Data Analysis.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this research was to collect tangible information regarding the legal knowledge and political preferences of undergraduate students of Bacolod City. Specifically, it aimed to answer the following research questions:
- How much do the respondents know about the law in terms of?
- Name of the Philippine Constitution
- Article III of the Philippine Constitution
- The Preamble of the Philippine Constitution
- Would they elect presidential candidates who promises to kill all drug addicts?
- Would they vote for electoral candidates convicted of crimes?
- What is the respondents’ notion of Freedom of Speech and Expression?
Table 1. RUBRIC FOR GAUGING THE DEPTH OF LEGAL KNOWLEDGE
|Components||Has Background about the law, Knows the Name of the current Philippine Constitution as well as the bill of rights and remembers the Preamble of the Philippine Constitution||Has Background about the Law, Knows the name of the current Philippine Constitution as well as The Bill of Rights||Knows the Law and the Name of the Current Philippine Constitution||Has Background about the Law|
Table 2. MEAN SCORE INTERPRETATION FOR THE DEPTH OF LEGAL KNOWLEDGE
|3.1 – 4.0||Exemplary||Has Background about the law, Knows the Name of the current Philippine Constitution as well as the bill of rights and remembers the Preamble of the Philippine Constitution|
|2.1 – 3.0||Proficient||Has Background about the Law, Knows the name of the current Philippine Constitution as well as The Bill of Rights|
|1.1 – 2.0||Emerging||Knows the Law and the Name of the Current Philippine Constitution|
|0 – 1.0||Poor||Has Background about the Law|
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSION
This chapter presents a summary of findings, interpretation and conclusion of this legal research.
Table 3. Profile of Respondents in Terms of Legal Knowledge
|n||Percent (%)||Mean Score||Interpretation|
|0||0%||3.1 – 4.0||Exemplary|
|16||11.51%||2.1 – 3.0||Proficient|
|81||58.27%||1.1 – 2.0||Emerging|
|42||30.22%||0 – 1.0||Poor|
Table 3 shows that out of the 139 respondents, majority of them (81) or 58.27% of the total population have emerging legal knowledge followed by 42 or 30.22% of the total population having poor legal knowledge and a meager 16 or 11.51% of the total population have proficient legal knowledge. None of the respondents attained up to exemplary legal knowledge.
Table 4. Political Preference of Respondents According to Depth of Legal Knowledge
|Depth of Legal Knowledge||Percentage of respondents willing to vote for a presidential candidate who promises to kill all drug addicts.||Percentage of respondents willing to vote for candidates convicted of crimes.|
|Proficient||12.50 %||12.00 %|
|Emerging||24.69 %||7.41 %|
|Poor||26.19 %||7.14 %|
The results of the study also show, as seen in Table 4, that as for the political preferences of the respondents, there is an inverse relationship between the percentage of respondents supporting presidential candidates promising to kill all drug addicts and the respondents’ depth of legal knowledge with 12.50% for proficient, 24.69% for emerging, and 26.19% for poor depth of legal knowledge. As for the election of candidates convicted of crimes, it is the respondents with proficient depth of legal knowledge that is more likely to do so with 12.00% followed by the emerging with 7.41% and the poor with 7.14% of the respondents.
Qualitative data analysis of the respondents’ notion of freedom of speech and expression gave light to the following emergent themes. They considered it to be a universal and independent act performed by an individual to give external manifestation to one’s own ideas, thoughts, opinions, and feelings so that they may be able to let themselves be known. However, there should be limitations in the act of expression so as not to interfere with the rights of another individual.
In conclusion, the depth of legal knowledge of undergraduate students in Bacolod city are mostly emergent which means that at most, they know a little about the law and the name of our current constitution. Only a few know about the Bill of Rights which is enshrined in Article III of the Philippine constitution as well as the preamble. Based on the data, people who do not have an in-depth legal knowledge are more likely to vote for a president who promises to kill all drug addicts. On the other hand, even people who have a better grasp of legal knowledge are more likely to elect officials convicted of crimes. The college undergraduates of Bacolod City believe that freedom of speech and expression is a universal and independent act performed by an individual to give external manifestation to one’s own ideas, thoughts, opinions, and feelings so that they may be able to let themselves be known. However, they also think that there should be limitations in the act of expression so as not to interfere with the rights of other individuals.
From the findings we have generated from our research, it is with great conviction that we recommend that there be a Mandatory Subject covering the basics and most vital parts of the Constitution and this must be given to students in the academic year levels preceding the voting age of 18. With the current K-12 curriculum, this subject should be given to the Senior High students who are aged 16-18.
Our firm belief is supported by our data, and our data shows that majority of the respondents have very little knowledge of the Constitution and are inclined to vote for candidates whose actions are contrary to the provisions of the highest law of the land simply because they did not know better. A Mandatory Subject on the Constitution therefore, will be a solution to this problem.
As for those who are not in school, we recommend that there be a Mandatory Seminar for new voters. This seminar must include the basics of the Constitution and should give attendees a clear understanding of what is constitutional and what is not.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
The following terms were used in the study:
1.) Legal Knowledge – an activity of mind, a way of doing something with the rules and cases and other materials of law. (J.B. White, 2002)
In our study, Legal Knowledge is defined as the capacity of students to know the basic and important provisions of the constitution.
2.) Undergraduate Students – An undergraduate is a student at a university or college who is studying for his or her first degree. (Collins Dictionary.com)
In the study, Undergraduate Students are the main participants of the study.
3.) 1987 Constitution – The fourth fundamental law to govern the Philippines. (J. Cruz)
In the study, the 1987 Constitution was used as a reference to the current constitution and as part of the Research Instrument.
4.) Article II – Declaration of Principles and State Policies. (1987 Philippine Constitution)
In the study, Article II is used as a question for undergraduate students as part of the research instrument.
5.) Presidential Candidate – one that aspires to or is nominated or qualified for an office, membership, or award, such as President. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
In the study, the term Presidential Candidate was used to make a clearer point of contention as we were writing the introduction.
6.) Electoral Candidates – one that aspires to or is nominated or qualified for an office, membership, or award. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
In the study, the term Electoral Candidates is used in the composition of questions to determine the depth of the Undergraduates’ knowledge of the Law.
7.) Preamble – preliminary statement, introductory paragraph. (Online Etymology Dictionary)
In the study, the preamble is used as part of the research instrument distributed to Undergraduate Students.
8.) Freedom of Speech and Expression – the right to express opinions without government restraint. (The United States Constitution)
In the study, Freedom of Speech and Expression was used as an open-ended question in the research instrument for the participants to answer.
Cruz, Isagani L. and Cruz, Carlo L., 2014, Philippine Political Law (2014 Edition) pp. 13-16
Economides, Kim. (2015). Legal Education. 10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.92073-7.
Fenwick, Mark & Kaal, Wulf & Vermeulen, Erik. (2019). Legal Education in a Digital Age. 10.1007/978-981-15-1350-3_7.
Gatmaytan, Dante. (2018). Constitutional Deconsecration: Enforcing an Imposed Constitution in Duterte’s Philippines. 62.
Goden, Margaret A.(1974) ,“Freudian Mechanisms of Defence,” in Freud: A Collection of Critical Essays ed. Richard Wolheim ,247. Retrieved from Philosophy 302: Ethics (The Ethics of Socrates) https://philosophy.lander.edu/ethics/socrates.html?fbclid=IwAR24mbKuZNyMETvNYaF2PDEhLGoPM0z-P_2Z5hWHudrmuMd8foPjf4_ONjE
Paluga, Myfel. (2019). Moral Politics in the Philippines: Inequality, Democracy, and the Urban Poor, by Wataru Kusaka. Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia. 175. 384-387. 10.1163/22134379-17502011.
Princeton: Princeton University Press (1961) Plato, “Socrates’ Defense (Apology)” trans. Hugh Tredennick in Plato: The Collected Dialogues ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Retrieved from Philosophy 302: Ethics (The Ethics of Socrates) : https://philosophy.lander.edu/ethics/socrates.html?fbclid=IwAR24mbKuZNyMETvNYaF2PDEhLGoPM0z-P_2Z5hWHudrmuMd8foPjf4_ONjE
White, J.B. (2002 March) Harvard Law Review pp.1396-1431.
- Survey Questionnaire
|Researcher-Made Survey Questionnaire Assessing the Legal Knowledge of Undergraduates|
The objective of this survey is to collect tangible information regarding the legal knowledge and political preferences of undergraduate students of Bacolod City. The results of this study will serve as a benchmark for future researchers conducting studies related to legal education.
Your participation in this study is presumed to be voluntary and you have the right to withdraw at any time, without prejudice, should you object to the nature of the research. You are assured full confidentiality and anonymity. No information disclosing your identity will be released or published without your consent. The material containing raw personal information will be destroyed by shredding after data processing.
Please fill in the necessary information and answer the questions for each item.
|1. On a scale of 1-3, how much do you know about the law? (Kindly encircle your answer)|
|1) I know nothing||2) I know a little||3) I know a lot|
|2. What do you call the current Philippine Constitution? (Kindly encircle your answer)|
|Freedom Constitution||1973 Constitution||1987 Constitution||Duterte Constitution|
|3. What is the title of Article III of the current Philippine Constitution?|
|4. Would you elect a presidential candidate who promises to kill all drug addicts? (Yes/No)|
|5. Would you vote for electoral candidates convicted of crimes such as plunder, graft & corruption? (Yes/No)|
|6. Can you still memorize the preamble of the current Philippine Constitution? (Yes/No)|
|7. If your answer to No.6 is Yes, please write down the preamble of the current Philippine Constitution on the space provided. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________|
|8. What is your notion of Freedom of Speech and Expression? (Please answer in one sentence)|
Thank you for your participation!
- Letters to Schools
November 25, 2019
Greetings of peace and good tidings! I’m a freshman law student from the University of St La Salle who is currently working on our paper for our Legal Research Class with Atty Jocelle Batapa-Sigue. I’m part of a group composed of four members and our work is initially titled “Gauging the Depth of Legal Knowledge of University Undergraduates” and in line with this, we humbly request for your permission to conduct a survey sampling with at least two classes from the senior year (any Course will do) in your university.
I am hoping we could conduct this survey between November 28 to December 4. The survey will include only eight (8) simple questions and can be finished within 15 minutes the most.
Should you have any clarification regarding this letter, you may reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through my mobile at 09613591072.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you and God bless!
Coleen Edrea F. Ematong
Law Student, USLS-Bacolod
Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue
Law Professor, USLS-Bacolod
ABOUT THE RESEARCHERS
JASON BRIAN AVELINO is a freshman law student at the University of St La Salle-Bacolod where he also graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in March, 2019.
SOPHIA INEZ BILBAO had a semester in law school before her family decided to migrate to Spain where she intends to continue her law studies. She is an alumna of the Political Science Department at the University of St La Salle- Bacolod.
COLEEN EDREA EMATONG has been working in Advertising in Dubai, UAE for the last three years before she came home to enroll in law school. She is a Political Science graduate from the University of St La Salle.
JARRE GROMEA is a free-thinker and has been practicing as a licensed professional teacher for 7 years. He graduated from the University of St La Salle with a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education Major in Physical Sciences.