Today is Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Eulogy for Justice Roberto A. Barrios

by: J. Edgardo P. Cruz

I feel privileged standing here before you today speaking about Justice Roberto A. Barrios, a distinguished member of this Court, my colleague and dear friend.

Much as we all wish we are gathered here under happier circumstances, we are faced with the reality that someone we all love has died. But let not this occasion be only about sharing our grief. Let us make it a tribute to an extraordinary man who gave so much of himself to serve others. His was a life full of meaning. And I hope it will not be lost on us.

As I was preparing this eulogy, I came across Justice Barrios' curriculum vitae and was struck by the realization that, all this time, our careers had been on parallel course. He started out in the judiciary as an RTC Judge of Roxas City, while I first sat as judge of the RTC of Nueva Ecija. In the early 1990s, we were both appointed to the RTC of Manila where he was conferred the Judicial Excellence Award in 1995 and I, the following year. From the RTC, we went on to become members of the Court of Appeals. Also, at some point in our professional careers, we each spent some time teaching and in 2005 we were both chosen as bar examiners.

But more than the similarities in our professional lives, I think that what drew Justice Barrios and I together as friends are the views and ideals we shared about the law, the work we do and life in general.

I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to know Justice Barrios more than on a professional level. He and I shared many good times. He was my buddy, a regular at our office parties and celebrations, just as I was in his. He was my sounding board, ever willing and ready to listen and give his opinion on whatever I had in mind. Sometimes, I would just call him and then and there, he would let me pick his brains. He was the kind of person who was generous with his time and thoughts, never too busy to lend an ear, share some advice or give support to anyone who needs it. In everything he did, he remained true to his Atenean upbringing ..... a man for others.

As you will agree, Justice Barrios was a person who drew respect by his air of quiet dignity. He was not one to purposely call attention to himself or his achievements. But his manner, demeanor and way of speaking readily showed his depth of character, intelligence and breeding. He was a gentlemen in every sense of the word.

Justice Barrios loved the law and found fulfillment in his role as dispenser of justice. To him, being a member of the bench is more than a job; it was a responsibility he took to heart and performed with great zeal, excellence and integrity. Quite expectedly, his impressive performance and dedication as a member of the bench did not go unnoticed, as he rose from the ranks to the appellate court. Here, in the Court of Appeals, he continued to stand out and shine with his keen mind, sensible prose and efficiency. Without a doubt, Justice Barrios could have gone on to become a Justice of the Supreme Court. But time ran out too soon.

Justice Barrios served the Filipino people for the past two decades as a distinguished member of the judiciary. He was a gifted lawyer who could have easily established a more financially-rewarding law practice. Instead, he followed his calling to serve his people the best way he knew - through the administration of justice. This, he did well, painstakingly studying the law, analyzing the facts of each case and rendering justice for all who seek it. Despite his many years and experience on the bench, his thirst for knowledge and understanding of the law persisted and he made the most of every opportunity to learn something new. The law was his passion and he dedicated a great part of his life mastering it, applying it and making it serve its purpose to deliver justice where it is due.

Justice Barrios' demise has left a void in this Court that would be difficult to fill. I doubt if there is anyone who can match his dedication, wisdom and values. Men like him come too few and far between. Each of us who knew and loved him is blessed because he was a part of our lives and we were a part of his. One way we can thank him and give tribute to his memory is to carry on his ideals and good work. His integrity should serve as an inspiration to us all, especially in these times when temptation waits at every turn. His steadfast beliefs should also be a source of strength and faith for us, who are faced with dilemmas and moral conflicts. We have learned, by his example, that there is no greater fulfillment than giving our best in everything we do. His work ethic should be our guidepost as we go about our daily tasks.

Right now, we may feel diminished by Justice Barrios' passing. But let us not lose sight of how much he has enriched our lives by just being who he was – husband, father, son, brother, colleague, mentor and friend. He lived a full life, putting his God-given talents and skills to good use by being a public servant and touching the lives of many with his thoughtfulness, sincerity and concern. In his own way, he made the world a better place and, for this, his memory will always endure, never to be forgotten, especially by those who loved him.

Justice Barrios' passing has evoked thoughts of my own mortality. But rather than brood on the shortness of the time we have in this life, I find comfort and inspiration in the thought that for so long as we live in the hearts of those we leave behind, we shall not die.

Bobby, you will be surely missed. I hope that somehow, I too have touched your life as much as you have touched mine.

Thank you and godspeed, my friend.

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