Viray: Unity in the Bar

In and out of court

MODESTY aside, this columnist was instrumental in the unity of lawyers in the San Fernando and Angeles areas.

There was a time in 1977 to 1987 that there was division based on territory in the lawyers of the two Pampanga cities. While the Bar Integration shuns politics, still the candidates competed for votes in the February elections, every two years.

I remember when I was inducted as a member in 1978, the competing camps were led by Attys. Ernesto Pineda of San Fernando and the late father of Cesar Villanueva of Angeles City. The aspiring candidates went all-out campaigning. The Manila lawyers came in droves and tilted the votes in favor of Erning Pineda. Naturally, there was feeling of disappointment, boarding on resentment on the part of the Angeles group.

In the ensuing term, the rivalry was more intense. Moy Ocampo of San Fernando was an institution in the legal circles and he was sure to be elected as President. Cesar Paras of Angeles City is an ex-judge who was known for his “pakikisama” to fellow lawyers. Cesar Paras was an underdog yet he beat the odds to the consternation of Pro-Ocampo side (this columnist included).

Ely Mallari of San Fernando surfaced in 1983 – and challenged Bebot Lagman of Guagua. The more matured lawyers sided with Ely and the young ones grouped themselves behind Bebot. There was heated rivalry that led to a walkout. The younger group left the elections and lost by default.

Oca Rodriquez, attempted to be the President of the IBP Pampanga in 1985 but was thrashed by Vicente San Luis of Angeles City. The latter was backed by government lawyers led by the iconic Estelito Mendoza.

Avelino Liangco of San Fernando bested Bebot Lagman (again) the next elections of 1987. This writer was elected as Vice-President.

Then in 1989, the supposed candidates for President were this writer of San Fernando, Pampanga and Augurio Pamintuan of Angeles City. It was in Cebu, where there was an IBP National Convention that the idea of unity came into fruition. There would not be a bitter elections; if the term is alternated between San Fernando group and Angeles group. So it was agreed that there would be a single slate. There would be a common line-up so there would no longer an acrimonious contest. This idea was seconded by Avelino Liangco and adopted by Cesar Paras and Ely Mallari. Viray was chosen as President; Augurio Pamintuan as Vice President. This was to be the start of the term sharing between San Fernando and Angeles lawyers.

It was understood that Pamintuan was the next President and that happened in 1991.

The term sharing has obvious advantages:

1) No more bickerings nor expenses in the elections;

2) Young people are honed to become leaders of the bar;

3) Camaraderie among San Fernando and Angeles lawyers became intact and stronger.

The result is astonishing and unprecedented. The Pampanga Chapter was cited as Outstanding Chapter in 1989 in the whole country and this award was repeated in 1995 during the Presidency of Wilfredo Untalan.

In 1997, the Guagua group led by Wilfrido C. Mangiliman as President of the Chapter and for the third time, the chapter copped the Most Outstanding Chapter.

(To be continued)


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