Magsaysay Award Winner Here for Lectures and Public Events

January 23, 2014

Leading Philippine Environmental Law Prof. Antonio Oposa Jr. Speaking at Law School Tuesday, Jan. 28.

             Award-winning Philippine environmentalist Prof. Antonio A. Oposa Jr., whose legal work in saving virgin forests and cleaning up Manila Bay are significant environmental milestones, will give a public talk at the University of Hawai‘i Law School on Tuesday, January 28.

            The talk is scheduled from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in the Moot Courtroom at the William S. Richardson School of Law at 2515 Dole St.

            Prof. Oposa is in the Islands for a series of student lectures - “Environmental Law in the Philippines – In Action!” at the UH Law School. He’ll also participate in events at the Filcom Center as part of Visayan Heritage Month, with a ‘Talk Story’ session beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday, January 26. The center is located in Waipahu at 94-428 Mokuola St. #302.

            Prof. Oposa is one of Asia’s leading voices in the global arena of environmental law and his work is known internationally for the cases he brought to protect the natural environment in the Philippines.

            In 2009 Oposa won the Magsaysay Award which some refer to as Asia’s Nobel Prize.

            In 1990 he initiated a case on behalf of the country’s remaining virgin tropical rain forests. Ultimately he took the case to the Philippine Supreme Court, which  enforced the principle of inter-generational responsibility.

            The Court recognized the standing of the petitioners’ children to take legal action on their own behalf and on behalf of generations unborn in Minors Oposa v. Factoran (1993).

            In December 2008, after a 10-year legal battle he waged from the trial court all the way to the Philippine Supreme Court against 11 governmental agencies, Oposa prevailed in a case to clean up Manila Bay.  In a continuing mandamus order, the Supreme Court ordered all defendant agencies to implement a time-bound action plan to clean up the bay and to report their progress to the Court every 90 days.

            In supporting Prof. Oposa’s visit to Hawai‘i to lecture to law students, Law Dean Avi Soifer noted this unique opportunity to hear an internationally recognized leader in the global environmental movement.

            Soifer said, “Professor Oposa is rightfully renowned for his accomplishments in court, but he is also a very compelling speaker and a wonderful friend to the Law School.”

            David M. Forman, Interim Director of the Environmental Law Program at the UH Law School, who was instrumental in Prof. Oposa’s invitation to teach in Hawai‘i, said students will have the chance to learn how he maneuvered within the legal system to protect both a critically important bay and unique rain forests, in addition to his involvement in the next trail-blazing effort to address environmental issues in the Philippines.

            “Prof. Oposa is a dynamic and inspiring speaker, whose humility cannot hope to obscure decades of path-breaking work that he has undertaken for the purpose of protecting natural resources for the Philippines.  I had the privilege of participating in one of Attorney Oposa’s restorative enforcement actions off Bantayan Island, Cebu in May 2013; the professionalism, respect and compassion on display during that effort was simply incredible.”