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Antonio La Viña

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Title: Antonio La Viña  
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Subject: List of Ateneo de Manila University people, Ateneo School of Government, List of Yale Law School alumni
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Antonio La Viña

Antonio Gabriel Maestrado La Viña (born October 2, 1959) is a Filipino lawyer, educator, and environmental policy expert. A former Undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), he currently sits as the dean of the Ateneo School of Government.


La Viña was born in Cagayan de Oro to lawyer and academic Gabriel La Viña and Mrs. Lourdes Chaves Maestrado-La Viña, who would later serve as city councilor for Cagayan de Oro City, and is the daughter of Silvino Dacapio Maestrado, former Congressman for the 1st District of Misamis Province.[1]

He graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1980 with a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy. After teaching philosophy at the Ateneo and Xavier University, he took up law at the University of the Philippines College of Law. He would later place third in the 1989 Philippine Bar Examination (one of his schoolmates was former Philippine Defense Secretary and Congressman Gilbert Teodoro, who placed first in the bar that year[2]). La Viña spent several years as a professor of law at UP in the 1990s, and as a human rights and environmental attorney serving indigenous peoples and other local communities.

In 1992, La Viña attended Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut, for his Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science degrees. At Yale, he focused on international environmental law and policy and wrote a dissertation on climate change.


As an academic, La Viña served as a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University and Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro; and as of present, at the Ateneo Loyola Schools, the Philippine Judicial Academy of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the law schools of the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, and De La Salle University, and the Ateneo School of Government. He is often tapped for individual lectures at other academic institutions, particularly on account of his expertise in environmental law. While at UP, he co-founded the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan, a human rights and environmental organization.

In 1996, at the age of 36, he was appointed Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). As Undersecretary, his office emphasized the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, efficient and fair access to justice in administrative decisions, public participation and stakeholder consensus building in environmental decision-making, and innovative programs in environmental regulation.[3][note 1] Part of his duties included serving as the DENR’s Crisis Manager, where he dealt with the department’s response to, among others, the Marcopper mining disaster.

In addition, he was chief negotiator for the Philippines in the implementation of Conventions on Biological Diversity and Climate Change from 1996-1998, where he was recognized as the lead negotiator for developing countries in the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. He served as Undersecretary until June 1998.

From 1998 to 2006, he was director of the Biological Resources Program and Senior Fellow in Institutions and Governance of the World Resources Institute in Washington D.C.,[4] with several offers for plum posts in international organizations.

In 2006, La Viña returned to the Philippines to accept an invitation to become Dean of the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG), succeeding Acting Dean Antonette Palma-Angeles. With his administration, ASoG had emerged as a leading Philippine resource on environmental and climate change governance, being tapped by state, civil society, and international organizations for the design and implementation of local and national environmental policy (e.g., climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction,[5] REDD+[6]). It has also gained recognition for advancing research, advocacies, and partnerships in social accountability, political reform, inclusive development and innovation, and social entrepreneurship.

In addition to these roles, he serves as adviser to the Philippine delegation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Coordinator for the Group of 77 and China for the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action on Climate Change.[7] He served as a key facilitator for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation-Plus (REDD+) negotiations under the UNFCCC from 2009 to 2011. In late 2012, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno of the Philippine Supreme Court employed La Viña as a technical consultant to the Court’s Public Information Office.[8] He continues to be the Philippine representative to Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, an international network of social entrepreneurship advocates.[9]

La Viña's other current corporate and policy positions include:

La Viña also sits as Chairman of the Governing Board of the Ateneo Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ACSent).

Authorship and Publication

As an academician, lawyer, and environmental expert, La Viña has authored or edited numerous books, anthologies, monographs, and journal articles, mostly on environmental topics and issues. His experience in environmental issues has led him to author the chapter on environmental law and cases for the Benchbook for Philippine Trial Judges (Revised and Expanded); and Philippine Law and Ecology (Vol. 1: National Laws and Policies[14] and Vol. 2: International Treaties and Rules on Procedure), the last two of which are compilations of laws, international instruments, legal cases, and commentary on the constellation of Philippine environmental policy and jurisprudence.

He maintains a twice-weekly column, "Eagle Eyes", in the Manila Standard Today, and contributes to the Philippine social news site Rappler, where he comments on Philippine and international issues on the environment, socio-economic development, governance, and current affairs. He also maintains a column, "The Riverman's Vista" in the Mindanao current affairs news website MindaNews,[15] and "The Connector", a column in the Philippine affairs news and opinion website The LOBBYiST.[16]

Personal life

La Viña is married to Maria Carmen Bonto-La Viña, a psychotherapist. They have three children.



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