This was the moment when we were down, helpless, and totally disappointed after we tried hard to earn a name for our family. This was the moment when my mother and other members of the family tried to console my father to be calm and not to be desperate at all. We advised him also to be positive in everything he does and always believe that there is always sunshine after the rain. This was also the moment of struggling, in search for truth and justice and how we were able to surpass with all our trials in life.
It all started when my father was relieved from his post, as the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) of Rizal without any case filed against him. Later on, he knew that the cause of his relief was that he issued patents to the lowly farmers in Tanay, Rizal who since time immemorial have already acquired vested rights over the disputed area. The disputed area was the area targetted by some high ranking officials in the Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to have the area reserved for housing site. This area was given to the developer for free to develop the area for housing site for DENR employees without taking into consideration the flight of the actual occupants who actually reside thereon for a living.
It turned out that the Presidential Proclamation reserving the said area for housing site was not approved and signed by the former President Gloria M. Arroyo for a simple reason that there was earlier an area reserved for housing site of DENR employees totalling to 130 hectares and the DENR under the leadership of Lito Atienza wanted more to expand the area for another 175 hectares but prior to their project, there are already actual occupants on the disputed area who actually occupied, possessed and cultivated the land in the concept of ownership since time immemorial. That’s why patents were issued in their favors.
After constructing some housing units in Phase I of their project (covered by Presidential Proclamation), the result was that the DENR employees cannot afford to pay the purchase prize, so, these units were sold to some movie celebrities and elite group who can afford to pay the high cost of the housing units.
Later on, a case was filed against my father in the office of the Ombudsman and right away my father was suspended for three months without pay for issuing patents to the lowly farmers of Tanay, Rizal. My father was ordered to answer the charges against him. So, what he did is to first conduct research work on related laws and jurispudence concerning land disposition, Then, he prepared an answer and all his acts were vindicated because the Office of the Ombudsman recognized the lawful rights of the lowly farmers over the disputed area. Right away, a decision was rendered and my father was ordered for reinstatement and his back salaries were paid, but he was only ordered to report in the Regional Office without any assignment.
Because of too much stress, and not accustomed of just reporting to the Regional Office without assignnment, he became sick and the doctor advised him to take a complete rest. At this point, he was not able to file a leave of absence for three months. When he returned for work, he immediately filed a leave of absence and accomplished his daily time record for the signature of the Regional Executive Director (RED) of Region IV-A, CALABARZON but to his surprise, the RED did not like to sign his daily time record, instead an order was served to him, dropping him from the rolls and all his benefits were forfeited as civil service employee.
According to my father, that very moment, he cannot express his feelings. The thought of being separated from the service, he felt that all his dreams were shuttered after serving the DENR for forty years. To him, he rose from the ranks up to the point he reached the level of being the Regional Technical Director of Region IV-A, CALABARZON way back 1998 up to year 2004. He was a scholar then in some European and Asian Countries where he was sent to take further studies concerning Land Adminstration and Management. During his early time, he became a scholar at the University of the Philippines taking up advanced courses in Economics.
He tried to talk to the RED if he can set aside the order dropping him from the rolls, but the RED was so firm in his decision. My father felt that his constitutional rights were violated, that he was unjustly treated by the higher management. That he was not given fair chance to explain his side and that letters were not sent to him for explanation. To top it all, no administrative measures were exhausted to determine the possible cause of his absences.
Again, my father got sick, he was physically and mentally disturbed. He felt he was in great shame as he was morally degraded by the sweeping act of the RED. At this point, my mother and the rest of the family tried to console him. We hired a lawyer through the help of our relatives and friends because my father at that time had no more salary. We tried to make things possible to make both ends meet.
My father through his lawyer made a research work and they found out that the RED has no authority to drop employees with salary grade of 24 and above. That it’s only the Secretary of the DENR who has the sole authority to do so. It means to say that there was a great negligence on his part as he has no authority to drop my father from the rolls, and maybe because he did not conduct further research on the matter. My father was advised by his lawyer and friends to file a case to the RED for his ignorance and the damage he had caused to destroy the career of my father.
So, right away he adhered to the advice of his lawyers and he filed an administrative case in the DENR against the RED and even elevated the case to the Office of the President, Malacanang, Manila who maliciously and intentionally dropped him from the rolls. While waiting for the outcome of the decision, my family do the daily habits of praying the rosary, begging to help my father in his search for truth and justice. My family and friends went out of their way to distribute some brochures and leaflets, depicting of what had happened to him during his stay in the DENR. These reading materials were distributed in his hometown, in churches, in colleges and universities and other social occassions to let the readers understand about his journey in the DENR, that he was badly put to shame and morally degraded after he had dedicated his entire life to the cause of public service.
At times, he accepted some invitations as speaker in some public hearings and symposia that concern Proper Disposal and Waste Management, Clean and Green, Handog Titulo Program and the Management and Conservation of Rivers, Creeks, Lakes including Manila Bay. It goes to say that my father did not stop his good work even he was already separated from the service. While fighting for justice, he was still doing public service to the people in our place and in his hometown Tanauan, Batangas.
He had a positive outlook in life by not just staying idle. I think this was his way of unwinding himself from the problems he was facing. He was so civil in addressing his problems and did not stop believing that he can do it. A lot of his friends sympathized him and he was admired for his courage and enthusiasm to fight the management. Others felt that he was totally helpless and even believed that he cannot anymore be reinstated. According to my father, there are others in the organization who are committing blunder, worst than ever compared from his situation, and they ought to be punished under the law because of their ill doings concerning graft and corruption and they became rich at the expense of others.
On my part, I felt and experienced all the adjustments in life because I’m still studying and my only hope was my mother. She was the only one who can be reached for my expenses in school. There were complete changes in the way of spending. We simply lived and spent within the reach of my mother’s earnings, who is also working in the DENR. We tried everything to make things possible. It was really a period of adjustment and struggles. I could not imagine how I was able to survive to make things smooth for me. I think, it was all in the mind. I told my father that maybe we may not have everything but at least we do not have nothing. Try to reach for someone and it was the Lord who can help us for all the miseries we have.
It is true, that the only weapon to combat all misfortunes, is prayer. It is only through calling the Lord that we can rebuild our strength and compose ourselves to meet the challenges in life. Maybe, we have to be strong and firm to find ways what is best for us. My mother and the rest of the family did not stop praying the rosary and we tried to call the Lord to help my father in his journey for justice.
After nine months of waiting, my father was called by the Secretary of the DENR, Forester Ramon Paje. My father had a confidential talk with him and he explained his side that during that time, the RED committed a great mistake to drop him from the rolls since the latter has no jurisdiction and/or authority to do so. It is only the Secretary of the DENR who has the authority to drop him from the rolls. According to the DENR Secretary, the act of the RED is so inhuman and he abused his power to destroy my father’s career.
After what had transpired between my father and the DENR Secretary, a decision was rendered, resinstating my father in the service and all his back salaries were paid. The RED was immediately transferred to other region, as punishment for the mistake he has committed.
The retirement of my father is fast approaching and he wants to leave the organization with a good name. In due time, he will harvest the fruits of his labor, and I told him to try to be cool always and forget the bad experiences he had during his encounter with the RED. I said to him to enjoy life, and be positive in all his directions for the Lord is just beside him to bless him in all his work. At present, he is now ordered by the DENR Secretary to assist Congressman Sonny Collantes in some DENR programs and projects in Tanauan, Batangas that can uplift the socio-economic condition of the people in the countryside.
Now, my father believes that it is only through constant prayers that he can be totally healed. Never stopped calling the Lord for he is our redeemer and he believes that he is nothing without the Lord for He can make things possible for everyone, especially during our trials in life.
Courtney from Study Moose
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