Sunday, September 07, 2008

More on the infamous Intramuros tree massacre , a lawyer's essay

As promised to the readers I went to Mass in Manila Cathedral. Here are some photos from what my environmentalist friends now call as the "Bambi Harper Tree Massacre".

Plaza Roma has been cleared of trees. I would agree with Ms Harper, a properly landscaped square would bring it closer to its original essence as a European plaza. In the plazas I have seen in Europe, trees bound the square but the square itself is clear ground.

In fairness to Ms Harper, she apologized for the incident. But I honestly believe that she isn't completely off the hook. Since she is head of the Intramuros Administration, the buck really ends up on her office desk.

I was relieved to see that the old Ficus was still standing although almost stripped of its branches. If environmentalists did not cry foul then this tree would have ended up as firewood! Note the narra in the foreground (probably planted for Pope John Paul II's visit twelve years ago) has been cut.

The contractors that Ms Harper's office hired were supposed to ball the larger narras but according to environmental advocates, went about it the wrong way. Note that the crown of this narra has been almost completely lopped off.

With larger narras they didn't bother to ball them and went about it the easiest way!

Mayor Fred Lim of Manila had a committee determine Ms Harper's legal culpability. The city seems to say she isn't liable but Environment secretary Lito Atienza says otherwise.

Leave it to the lawyers!

I have always an ambivalent attitudes towards lawyers. Sometimes I wish all of them went down with the Titanic and at times, they are my heroes. Nonetheless, I wish the 2008 bar candidates the best of luck. They start taking their exams today. The Inquirer print edition has an essay by Anna Patricia R Del Castillo, a bar two timer (that means she took the exams twice). I enjoyed Ms Castillo's essay since at least we still have lawyers that can write good prose. But I was saddened to learn that Ms Castillo passed away last June 21.

She writes towards the end of her piece

"At last I discovered that being a lawyer was my true path although at the start I was just going with the flow, like floating downstream in a river. When I finally began to find myself, I related to and understood the world more. In a way I became more caring but also more responsible and emphatic in my views.

I also saw the need to help people, and I realized how being a lawyer is one of the better paths to do that. I could volunteer in nongovernment organizations to help the poor, preserve the environment, defend the rights of orphans and abused women.

Government work was also another option open to me as a lawyer. I could promote policies that could help people and preserve those places on earth where the environment has been abused. And even in private practice, I could handle cases and contribute directly to improve the lives of my clients.

I do realize now that being a lawyer creates a peculiar and unique sense of power and responsibility that I wouldn’t have had in any other career. It’s really the beginning of a new life."

The essay has a lot of poignancy. This because her life has been tragically cut short. Now we are left of what would have beens. The legal profession and the rest of us are in a real sense, poorer.

Her last sentence is also directed to all whose education propelled them to positions of privilege and responsibility. That includes us science PhDs. Maybe I should write something similar to Attorney del Castillo's essay.

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