PSALM President and
Chief Executive Officer
PSALM’s gargantuan task: to fully pay off all
the obligations of the National Power Corporation
without having to burden the national government“
BY JOYCE REYES-AGUILA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMEO PERALTA, JR.
After almost 20 years, lawyer Irene Joy Besido Garcia’s professional calling shifted from advocating the causes of individual clients or corporations to defending the public interest. The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) president and chief executive officer was in private practice for a long time, having started her career with the late great statesman, Senator Raul Roco.
“He (Raul Roco) was a young lawyer then who was working for the ACCRALAW (Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices),” Atty. Garcia recalls. “After the 1986 EDSA Revolution, he formed his own law firm, the Roco Buniag Kapunan Migallos law offices with Attys. Lorna Kapunan and Atty. Barbara Migallos. It was one of the top law firms, and I joined them as a junior associate after I graduated in 1998. I wanted to be part of that firm because they don’t specialize or departmentalize the work. I wanted to be exposed to as many different kinds of law practices possible,” she continues.
Atty. Garcia became a senior associate at the Roco Law Office after two years and was admitted to partnership after four years. When Senator Roco succumbed to cancer, the law firm was dissolved, and the partners went their separate ways.
Along with Atty. Lorna Kapunan, Atty. Garcia established the Kapunan, Lotilla, Garcia & Castillo Law Offices. “We continued the same kind of practice—taking on litigation cases, many of which were controversial. We handled all sorts of cases like taxes, labor, family law, scandals, among others.”
Among Atty. Garcia’s slew of professional achievements, she considers being named senior partner of the Kapunan, Garcia, Castillo Law Offices as one of her greatest. “I was actually managing partner of the law firm before I moved to the public sector. Throughout my career I could say I was fortunate to have handled a lot of interesting cases. Our firm got the first Writ of Kalikasan (a legal remedy under Philippine law that provides protection of one’s constitutional right to a healthy environment and protect and advance the right of human beings to a balanced and healthful ecology) for our work during the oil leak in Makati a few years back. We got the writ at a time when it was still a very new, young concept.” This
particular success was probably the start of the University of the Philippines alumna’s career shift to public service.