By: Elena Grace Flores
Philippines’ new President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte is another distinctive addition to the long list of lawyer politicians who made it as president in the Philippines – which is somewhat following the trend in the United States of America, the country’s number one ally. Running for the top office does require raising substantial amount of money – and in a very fast phase. Having influential fundraising networks are a necessity for the win and lawyers tend to have that power. For one, going to an expensive law school is already an immediate access to the elites or the highest level of society in terms of financial standing.
US’s Barack Obama, Richard Nixon and Thomas Jefferson studied and/or practiced law before they were elected as US presidents. Also, many US presidents with background in law are among the most popular. Abraham Lincoln never attended law school but he was dubbed as one of the most famous lawyer-presidents. Lincoln was a self-taught attorney the same as Andrew Jackson. Other US lawyer-presidents include Franklin Roosevelt, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton.
However, it is not all money or strong connections with the rich and famous to be a successful lawyer president. Logical thinking, reasoning abilities, the ability to build an effective argument and excellent speaking skills are all required for the presidency which are common traits of an excellent lawyer. In the Philippines, the past lawyer presidents were not only exceptional people in terms of character – most of them were actually Bar Exam top placers from prominent law schools. They were:
Manuel A. Roxas – 1st President (3rd Philippine Republic); 1st placer (92%), 1913 Bar Exams (UP)
Diosdado P. Macapagal – 5th President (3rd Philippine Republic); 1st placer (89.85%), 1936 Bar Exams (UST)
Ferdinand E. Marcos – 6th President (3rd Philippine Republic); 1st placer (92.35%), 1939 Bar Exams (UP)
Jose P. Laurel – President (2nd Philippine Republic); 2nd placer, 1915 Bar Exams (UP)
Elpidio C. Quirino – 2nd President (3rd Philippine Republic); 2nd placer, 1915 Bar Exams (UP)
Sergio S. Osmeña – 2nd President (Philippine Commonwealth); 2nd placer, 1903 Bar Exams (UST)
Manuel L. Quezon – 1st President (Philippine Commonwealth); 4th placer, 1903 Bar Exams (UST)
Carlos P. Garcia – 4th President (3rd Philippine Republic); 7th placer, 1923 Bar Exams (PLS)
Emmanuel N. Pelaez – former Philippine Vice President; 1st placer, 1938 Bar Exams (UM)
Arturo M. Tolentino – former Philippine Vice President; 2nd placer, 1934 Bar Exams (UP)