On Feb. 8, 2023, the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) marks Constitution Day right at the seat of power, Malacañang, the presidential palace.
Host and guest speaker of the gala morning event is President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, with some 250 Philconsa officers, members and guests in attendance.
Philconsa is the country’s oldest, largest, and only organization dedicated to the preservation, respect for, and defense of the Philippine Constitution.
Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is the Philconsa president.
President BBM and Speaker Martin will give a posthumous award to Philconsa’s long-time chairman and CEO, the late Manuel “Lolong” Lazaro also on Feb. 8.
Dapper and gentle of manners, Lolong was a lawyer’s lawyer, steeped in the practice and principles of law, honed by the crucible of experience both in government and outside it, and steeled by the wisdom of one who has seen it all.
Under Lolong’s watch, Philconsa manned the battle stations as the defender and protector of the basic law of the land, a voice of influence and wisdom, on matters of law, freedom and democracy; and a firm believer in of merit in public service and excellence in the exercise of one’s profession.
To him, duty, honor, country were sacrosanct—impenetrable to selfish and vested interests, impervious to passing passions of the moment, and impregnable to notions less honorable.
Said Lolong: “We are what we make of our Constitution. When we respect and obey the Constitution, we respect and honor the sovereign people. When we trifle with or desecrate the Constitution, we betray our nation and we become traitors to our people.”
Lolong was a constitutionalist, par excellence.
As President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr.’s legal counsel, he authored many of the presidential decrees that gave flesh, blood and substance to the reforms sought by the long-time Filipino leader.
The reforms enabled Marcos Sr. to stop a communist takeover, stop the dismemberment of the nation, and stop the once inevitable deterioration of society into the quagmire of decay, stagnation, and evisceration.
Lazaro was among those who asked the Supreme Court to question the constitutionality of the Aquino administration initiatives which are of doubtful legality and constitutionality.
These included the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), the Bangsamoro Autonomy Law, and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Lolong handled the granting of bail of Jinggoy Estrada who was in detention for almost three years and the lifting of the warrant of arrests of the children of his friend, Mayor Mel Mathay.
Lolong founded the Manuel M. Lazaro & Associates, in 1987 following his retirement from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC).
He had with the rank and privileges of Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals and as Presidential Legal Counsel (with the rank of Cabinet member) of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Lolong was active in the practice of law for over 50 years. He started at the age of 22.
As Government Corporate Counsel for 10 years, he served as legal counsel for 79 government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), which included, among others, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS ), Metropolitan Water Sewerage System (MWSS ), Philippine Airlines (PAL), Philippine National Bank (PNB), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Manila Hotel Corp.
As the Presidential Assistant for Legal Affairs or Legal Counsel of President Marcos, Lazaro, by authority of the President, rendered decisions on cases appealed to the Office of the President from all the executive departments.
He drafted Presidential Decrees, Letters of Instruction and Executive Orders and appeared before the Supreme Court.
Among the significant decrees he drafted were: The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), The Judiciary Development Fund, the charters of GSIS, MWSS, and Manila International Airport.
Lolong was the chair and CEO of Okada Manila and Director of PAL, Manila Hotel and other companies.
Lolong Lazaro died on May 17, 2022. He was one Filipino who made his country a better one for those who came after him.