Sunday, February 19, 2017

Death of female lawyer leaves Bohol residents in shock, grief

As news about the unexpected death of lawyer Mia Manuelita Mascariñas-Green spread, numerous residents began expressing shock and sadness.

Green, 49, was shot dead at about 4:27 p.m. Feb. 15 inside her car in front of three children- aged 10 and two-year old twins and nanny.

She was about to go home with her kids that when her Toyota Innova (plate number ABM 9572) she was driving reached the corner of H. Zamora and J.A. Clarin Streets in Dao District, two motorcycles blocked the road and fired at her.
Residents of Bohol province were plunged into shock
 and disbelief when news came that environmental 
and human rights lawyer Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green 
was ambushed.  Courtesy: Green Family

Although her children were seated at the passenger seat in the back, the perpetrators aimed their guns at Green.

She succumbed to three bullet wounds to her head and four to the body from .45 and 9mm caliber pistols during the attack.

The victim’s children were unharmed. However, the suspects harassed and taunted the kids and the nanny.

Tagbilaran City Police Chief Nicomedes Olaivar Jr. said Green was caught in the conflict between her client and the resort owner. Green's client and the resort owner had dragged their dispute to court. Olaivar said Green and her client were reportedly on the verge of winning the case.

No arrests have been made in the case since the suspects - Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga as the mastermind in Green’s murder and Romarico Benigian as one of the shooters -were able to escape on Friday morning during the police operation.

Stuart James  “Estong” Green, a Briton marine biologist,  left his wife on Sunday  for a seminar in Bangkok, Thailand. When he learned the news, he took the first flight to Bohol.

The phone lines have been busy all day, he said, with numerous clients and friends calling to express their condolences, most of them expressing shock upon hearing the news.

Stuart expressed grief that killing her wife in front of her children is “unacceptable.”

“She is far too young to have died, and the manner she died in front of her children is really unacceptable in any country, society,” he said.

Stuart and Mia got married on June 26, 2004. They had three children.

“She’s an amazing woman who not enough to spend for 20 years of my life with. But should be able to spend 60 years with her so it is a “bitin” (hanging) experience,” he said.

At the crime scene/Leo Udtohan
Her ten-year-old daughter, Zoe, is also mourning her loss.

“She was a hands-on Mom.... loving and caring and she did care for us,” the little girl told Inquirer.

Stuart said she was a full-time mom and part-timer lawyer.

“She was minimizing her legal works because of our kids,” he said.

His kids saw two men gunned down his wife and after the shooting were laughing while fleeing away with two motorcycles and a van.

He was thankful the kids were unharmed.

“We are blessed the three children survived,” he said.

Stuart said he’s facing a challenge to be his kids mother and father rolled into one.

“I am set with the big challenge how do I convince my children as their mother and father now  that the values that my wife believed in so deeply are true in the Philippines. We need to show, otherwise I have no face to my children, that justice can prevail in a situation like this,” he said.

He said that his wife believed in fair legal processes and everyone deserves such treatment.

“My wife believed in legal process in looking after the client and every Filipino had the right to justice. Even the poor people, and people who are who fall aside the government system have the right to fair legal process,” he said.

He said he’s grateful to those who come forward to support or to be witness of the case since they know the perpetrators. Hoping for justice for his wife, he encouraged others to pitch support for the early resolve of the case.

Members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Bohol,
 friends and family members gathered on  Saturday morning
 at the crime scene for “Pagyukbo" paying homage, honor 
and respect in memory of Green. Leo Udtohan

“We ask more people to come forward. If you worry about your security or safety, just come and talk to us to see what we can do to help you.  The PNP guaranteed their security and safety as well,” he said. 

Green's family offered a P500,000 reward for the capture of the suspects.

“We really need to find the people so that I can stand in front of my children and bring them  on the values she laid out as a person in her life. And I can say to them, ‘look your mother’s values really mean something and really was’,” he said.

Green, an environmental and human rights lawyer in the province, was well-known in handling pro bono cases and defended “oppressed” clients.

Profound loss
Her death hit the province hard.

“Bohol is mourning the loss of a topnotch lawyer. This is an utterly profound loss,” said Fatima Mapesos, 39, who was a long-time neighbor of Green in Dampas District where she held office.  She fondly called her “Maam Min-Min.”

“Mam Min-Min is so friendly, very talkative when we see each other especially when I passed by her house because our houses were just near, adjacent of the street. She is so kind, so good natured person and they are prominent family in the community, yet has seclusion and privacy in their personal life,” said Mapesos.

Mapesos said that her family is the most respected in the village.

“Whenever any Dampasanon who asked her legal advice or services, she always doesn’t ask for a fee and if you give her she will never accept it,” she said.

As news of her death spread, so did the tributes. Her colleagues, friends turned to social media to express their sentiments.

Paying homage to Atty. Green/ Leo Udtohan
Prof. Marianito Luspo said that she would always remember her for her great love for others.

“If there was one thing I would have wanted to see at the blood-stained hospital, it was not her wounds. I would have wanted to see her heart, and be assured that the assassin's bullets had not touched her organ that once pulsated with so much love for her fellowmen, not just for Estong, nor for her beautiful kids and her immediate family,” Luspo posted on Facebook.

Former city councilor Mariquit Anne Oppus said, “I grieve, especially for the women whose only hope was Mia! She was a true believer and passionate defender! A great loss! You will be missed Mi! RIP.”

Environmentalist Pat Ruiz said, “I really feel so very sad. I cannot believe this is happening. My heart bleeds for Mia, and Stuart and their kids. Rest in peace, Mia.”

Members of IBP-Bohol chapter/Leo Udtohan
Amor Vistal said, “That feeling when you see Mia and the only thing you could do at that moment is to be silent and offer a prayer. No words, no words will ever describe the tragic loss we all are feeling right now. No words came out from my mouth when Estong asked me - Why her?”

Both her admirers and her detractors agreed that Green was one of the sharpest intellects to ever serve on the bench.

Green was unstoppable, even from a young age. She was six years old when her mother Glorife died. It was her father Jose  Mascariñas, Jr  who took care of her and her four siblings.

She went to the elite private school Holy Spirit School in Tagbilaran and graduated with honors.

She was a salutatorian in high school at Divine Word College- Tagbilaran (DWC-T, now Holy Name University) in 1984. Her mentors and schoolmates remembered her as beauty and brains.

As a student leader, Mascarinas-Green wanted to change student politics.

“She has excellent leadership skills and articulate,” said Rosalinda Paredes, who was then director of student affairs office.

In college, she enrolled at DWCT and took up Bachelor of Science in Commerce, major in accounting. She graduated summa cum laude in college and became a certified public account (CPA).

She packed her bags and went to Manila and landed a job at Cunanan Accounting Office. She missed home and returned to Bohol. She studied law at DWC-T. She completed and perfected the dream of her parents who met in law school in the 1960's.

She was also teaching accountancy and law at DWC-T.

As a teacher, she tried to influence her students to excel and be passionate with their studies and their works, Paredes said.

Green became a successful criminal defense attorney who was never defeated. She was a crusader for the poor. A hard core environmentalist.

Her colleagues said that the bubbly CPA-Lawyer was devoted and dedicated.

Lawyer Ted Lagang, president of Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Bohol Chapter, said that her integrity as a lawyer was beyond unquestionable. 

“She leaves an enormous hole in our hearts, lives and community,” he said.

Judge Raul Barbarona who worked with Green at the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (Elac) said that she was fearless and principled woman.

He also said that Green had an impact on so many people, especially the poor, that’s it hard to quantify the loss.

Green had to pay the ultimate price of standing up for what she believed was right. She was not defeated at all; her life was cut short.


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