Friday, December 11, 2015
79. Prof. Alfredo Tadiar
Prof. Alfredo Tadiar taught me arbitration, not in school, but in actual arbitrations. My first arbitration was in 1998 about millions of collectibles from the construction of the Cebu airport, and my poor client's only defense was improper venue. On my first day in the arbitration table, there he was in his suit, knowing I was a neophyte but he kept me at ease, while talking about his Macs when Windows was in fashion. Prof. Tadiar never sneered at our case, which due to our desperation, was a cause we brought all the way to the Supreme Court. And after many years, he remembered and even said, maganda naman yung depensa mo, and we chuckled at the memory and triviality of it all. I nominated him again as an arbitrator at the biggest construction dispute in Philippine history, and he engagingly obliged. He was a tiger, at one point berating our side for not knowing how to cross. This is how it's done, he told us. And we pushed and didn't let him discourage us. I was having fits of dizziness and high blood pressure for the stakes were high. In one hearing, I irritated him for asking more than the questions he had allowed, so he cut off my mic. I stared at him for his rudeness but he dismissed me and proceeded. Never mind. Atty. Saklolo Leano, sage lawyer par excellence saved us all. We won that one and laughed all the way to the bank. I had him again in 2012, and poor lawyers from the other side, got intimidated by his stern demeanor and knowing theirs was a helpless cause, settled before any hearing could begin. We signed a compromise agreement and Prof. Tadiar seemingly irritated by the early surrender and the consummate perfectionist that he was, inserted a word about the unenforceability of our compromise. I wanted to tell him, does it matter as we already got our check? Finally, we nominated him again, this time in an international arbitration, and it has been nothing short of an educational and fun experience. He's been humoring us every hearing, once about hard it was for the arbitrators to collect their fees. He showed us why it was not going to be a walk in the park. Our proceedings are going to be examined before international courts, so we went by every rule in the book, which he pointed out every now and then. I felt like a kid every hearing listening and probing at how Prof. Tadiar and his co-arbitrators were thinking. And I marveled every time with what I saw. Unfortunately, a few days before our final hearing, he suffered a stroke and died. He was 85. Prof. Alfredo Tadiar is the lawyer for all seasons. Good humored, tech-savvy, clever, perfectionist, energetic, well-read, fashionable and world-class. The man drafted the Katarungang Pambaranggay Law and it is through his stewardship that arbitration and alternatives modes of dispute resolution is a thriving practice in this land. Goodbye Prof. Alfredo Tadiar. I have learned a lot from you, probably more than from any lawyer I have met in my career. Thank you. I already know how it is done, but never close to how you used to do it. You are finally with the Ultimate Arbitrator. I pray you rest in peace.