Silliman University College of Law Dean Mikhail Lee L. Maxino’s “Right to Life, Liberty, Property: A Seamless Trilogy to Prosperity” public lecture was the first FLP-sponsored event held in Mindanao. A Master of Laws in Environmental Law (Dalhousie University, Canada) graduate and environmental law expert, Dean Maxino organized his lecture on November 26, 2014—a year after the super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda devastated the south of the Philippines.
Dean Maxino’s lecture threshed out the principle of indivisibility of human rights, and put forward the main argument that “no right is inherently superior to another; they are all of equal importance.” In other words, a hierarchy of rights would only lead to “prioritized protections”. Thus, the Silliman Dean offered guiding principles: (1) one must respect the importance of rights involved; (2) one must acknowledge the limitation of rights; (3) one must look at the factor that limits a right (only actual burdens on rights trigger conflict); (4) one must understand that the core of a right is more protected than its periphery; and (5) one must consider rights within the the framework of other principles, such as social justice.
Ultimately, the goal is to curb the risk of enabling a select few— the rich, the powerful, or the privileged—to forcefully invoke their liberty and fundamental rights to legitimize their actions that marginalize the less privileged, especially in terms of socio-economic rights.
Quoting Frederick Bastiat, Dean Maxino pointed out that: “Life, liberty and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was that life, liberty and property that existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.”
He capped his lecture with a statement in reference to the book of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created property, then humans, then bestowed upon them the freedom to use and dominate property, then He exhorted them to multiply, be fruitful, be prosperous. Property, Life, Liberty – one seamless Right on the road to Prosperity.”
“It is curious that God created property first before humans” he added, “He designed property to be humanity’s source of food, even source of life. It is also curious to note that of the values that both the constitutions of the United States and the Philippines so sacredly protect, it is only property–the two being life and liberty– that people cannot be deprived of without due process of law and just compensation.”
Among the dignitaries present were Retired Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban and Mr. Nicanor L. Torres, Jr., Executive Director of the Metrobank Foundation.
Dean Maxino was instrumental in the establishment of the Dr. Jovito Salonga Center for Law and Development, an active social-advocacy arm, of the Silliman University College of Law. He has also been extensively involved in critical development projects in the areas of marine and costal resources and protected areas management, funded by international organizations, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Dean Mikhail Lee L. Maxino responds to questions from the audience