MW Reynold S. Fajardo
The poor man’s lawyer…
For twenty-two years, Reynold S. Fajardo was the chief of the biggest law office in Asia.
Born in Masantol, Pampanga on August 31, 1932, he learned his first letters in his hometown and after graduating from high school enrolled at the University of the Philippines where he obtained his LLB degree in 1955. After a short stint as a legal practitioner, he joined the legal staff of the Court of Agrarian Relations in 1957. In 1971 he transferred to the Department of Justice as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Justice.
In December 1975, Fajardo received a big break. President Ferdinand E. Marcos appointed him as the chief of the Citizens Legal Assistance Office (CLAO), a government office that extends free legal assistance to the indigent sector of Philippine society. The CLAO was created to give life to the constitutional guarantee that free access to the courts shall not be denied to anyone by reason of poverty, and to insure that the poor will enjoy equal protection under the law in their legal struggles vis-a-vis the rich and the mighty. At the time of Fajardo’s appointment, however, the CLAO was very new and was just a small organization. It had only 26 offices located in various regions of the country and an authorized force of less than 100 lawyers. The poor were unaware of its existence and even the Judges did not feel its presence. Obviously, the CLAO was not in a position to carry out its mandate. Moreover, in 1975, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) established over 70 legal aid chapters throughout the country and the leadership of the IBP waged a vigorous lobby to take over the functions of the CLAO. In short, the CLAO had a shaky existence.
Through the years Fajardo built up the CLAO. Yearly, he secured from the Budget Department of the national government additional appropriations to fund more provincial offices and create new lawyer positions. When he retired in October 1997, the CLAO or Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), as it is presently called, had a work force of over a thousand lawyers and more than 260 offices located in the various centers of population of the country. Admittedly, it is now the biggest law office in Asia. Judges rely heavily upon it for the early disposition of cases and hundreds of thousands of poor citizens are yearly assisted by its lawyers. It also works harmoniously with the IBP Legal Aid Chapters. Admittedly, the PAO has established its value and is now accepted as a permanent fixture in the legal landscape of the country.
Fajardo did not stay in retirement for long and was soon back in harness. In April 1998 he was elected Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge, a position he still occupies. Two months later he joined the Senate office of Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. as Chief of Staff.
Fajardo was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines in 1986 and is a Past Grand Royal Patron of the Grand Court of the Order of the Amaranth. He is a 33°Scottish Rite Mason and holds the position of Grand Orator in the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite. He also holds membership in the York Rite, the Royal Order of Scotland and the Knights of Rizal. For several years he edited “The Cabletow”, the official organ of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, and the “Far Eastern Freemason”, the official organ of Scottish Rite Masons in the Philippines.
Fajardo is a recognized Masonic historian. He has written over a hundred articles on Philippine Masonic history that saw print in Masonic journals here and abroad. He also wrote the following books: “Historic Perceptions”, “The Golden Years of the Grand Lodge” which was published as part of “Votaries of Honor”, “Dimasalang, the Masonic life of Dr. Jose Rizal” and “The Brethren” (two volumes) which is a history of Masonry in the Philippines from 1756 up to the end of the Second World War. He is a co-author “Kinship to Greatness”, a collection of the biographical sketches of all the Past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge and “The Golden Years”, a history of Scottish Rite Masonry in the Philippines.
Fajardo is the recipient of several awards. As a government official he received the highest national award given to career executives – the Linkod Bayan Award – which was conferred on him by the Career Executive Service Board in recognition of his “outstanding and significant contributions to public service.” In 1990 the Province of Pampanga honored him as the “Most Outstanding Kapangpangan in the Field of Law.” In 1992 the Grand Lodge of the Philippines selected him as the “Most Outstanding Mason in the Field of Public Service.” He has, likewise, received the “Legion of Honor” award conferred by the Supreme Council of the Order of DeMolay and the “Grand Lodge Gold Medal of Honor,” the highest award conferred by the Grand Lodge of the Philippines.
Apart from the foregoing, Fajardo has received over a hundred certificates of appreciation and recognition from various organizations.
Fajardo is married to Asuncion V. Fajardo who is a past Grand Royal Patron of the Grand Court of the Philippines, Order of the Amaranth. They have four children: Janet, Raymond, Naomi and Clarence.