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Editorial Team

Amapola Española
Editor-in-Chief

þ
Karla Bernardo
Samantha King
Jose Carlos Marin
Kathleen Tantuico
Gian Carlo Velasco
Board of Editors

þ
Atty. Alfredo Molo III
Atty. Mary Rose Tan
Atty. Bryan Dennis Tiojanco
Atty. Joan De Venecia
Eugene Pedro
Contributors

þ
Prof. Dante Gatmaytan
Atty. Jilliane De Dumo
Faculty and Alumni Advisers
CONTENTS
Vol. 1, No. 1 March 2016

4 Introduction

7 Malcolm Hall
as a Cultural Property 11 Expecting
the Expected

17 On Social Justice
and the Filipino Languages 21 Standing on the
Shoulders of Giants

Featured Article

33
Chief Justice
Maria Lourdes Sereno:
The Higher Calling
PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER Vol. 1, No. 1 February 2016

Introduction

The Editors
PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

F
ound is a word that belies a wealth of meaning. On one
hand, it indicates discovery — whether of something once
had and then lost, or something hitherto unknown. On
the other hand, it points to inspiration, to the moment
of creation, to building carefully from the ground up.
When something is found, a search ends, but the founding
of something ushers in a new beginning.

It is to this second definition that the word foundations


is tethered, and the word foundations is where we draw
inspiration for this maiden issue of the relaunched Philippine
Law Register. To acknowledge the foundations of the UP
College of Law is to see a celebrated institution as the sum
of many parts: the students who dictate the law school’s
evolution, the alumni who define its contributions to the
nation, the professors who instruct them both, and the halls
they all call home. It is upon these cornerstones that the
College has built the tradition of the grand manner famously
etched on its walls, and in this issue, we attempt to examine
each of them in a new light.

When we came together to relaunch the Register, we


shared a common realization. Certainly, the UP College of
Law already boasts of many publications geared towards
expanding legal scholarship, all of them set firmly on enriching
the legal mind. But there was no definitive avenue for students,
professors, and alumni to discuss other pressing subjects with
both expertise and heart. Outside the classroom, there was no
space established for the UP Law community to learn from
each other’s experiences not only as legal scholars, but also
as humans and as Filipinos.

This mindset has influenced the relaunch. We have thus


dispensed with the traditional notions of reportage — which,
at worst, are fleeting and brief, unable to accommodate
the nuances that a simple piece of news develops over time.

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

When something is found, a search ends,


but the founding of something ushers in a
new beginning.
Instead, we aimed for deeper, more passionate discussions
of current events which were not only informed by a sound
understanding of the law, but also made richer by experience
and humanity.

The relaunch of the Register is the culmination of months


of legwork and brainstorming, writing and revising, debate
and compromise. Yet it also lays down the foundation
for a venue where the UP Law community can critique,
communicate, and ruminate. We have found the space for new
kinds of conversations within the UP College of Law. With
the founding of the new Register, we hope to usher in new
voices and new perspectives, an altogether new beginning.

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER Vol. 1, No. 1 February 2016

Malcolm Hall
as a Cultural
Property

Kathleen Tantuico
PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

B
uilt in 1941, Malcolm Hall has molded presidents,
legislators, judges, nationalists, and philanthropists
who fought the everyday battles of their respective
advocacies. The building was named after Justice
George Malcolm, an Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court of the Philippines, who served as the first dean of the
college.

Designed by American-trained Filipino architect Juan


Arellano, the same architect who oversaw the construction of
the Manila Metropolitan Theater, the Legislative Building, the
Manila Central Post Office, and the Jones Bridge, Malcolm
Hall exhibits a neoclassical architectural style that suits
the country’s tropical climate. The open corridors facilitate
ventilation, while the continuous rows of arches allow for the
free passage of light and air, making the classrooms bright
and cool long before air-conditioners were bought.

Arellano was originally assigned to design the UP Campus


before the war. However, only Malcolm Hall and Benitez Hall,
the College of Education that mirrors the College of Law,
were finished before that time. Hence, his vision for the UP
Campus was never fully implemented. This is the reason why
Malcolm Hall and Benitez Hall, the first two buildings in the
Diliman Campus, project a distinct style that distinguishes
them from the rest.

In celebration of its centennial year, a national historical


marker was installed at the front façade of Malcolm Hall in
February of 2013. A national historical marker is installed
by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines
(NHCP) to structures that possess a cultural value. With
this event, the cultural significance of Malcolm Hall is now
officially recorded in the NHCP’s National Registry of
Historic Sites and Structures in the Philippines.

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According to the Guidelines on the Identification,


Classification, and Recognition of Historic Sites and Structures
in the Philippines published by the NHCP in 2011, a national
historical marker is installed on structures that possess a
demonstrable historical significance and are at least 50 years
old and 70% authentic.

Malcolm Hall is classified as a Level II historic structure.


This entails “the installation of a historical marker in a historic
site or structure that is not declared a heritage zone/historic
center [or a] national cultural treasure […] but nonetheless
has some historical significance. Such a site or structure
may later be elevated to Level I recognition pending further
research and re-evaluation.”

Under the Cultural Heritage Law of 2009 (RA 10066),


marked structures as declared by the NHCP are also
considered important cultural properties and enjoy certain
privileges such as priority government funding relative to
protection, conservation, and restoration.

Thus, Malcolm Hall is not only a witness to the training


of UP lawyers, but also a space in which culture and history
converge.

The author consulted Clara Gallardo’s thesis on Juan Arellano


and would like to thank Johhan Ararao and Stephen Pamorada
of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts-Philippine
Registry of Cultural Properties Team and Wilmer Godoy of the
National Historical Commission of the Philippines.

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER Vol. 1, No. 1 February 2016

Expecting
the Expected

Karla Bernardo
PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

W
eeks after a 7.8- and 7.3-magnitude earthquake
battered Nepal last April and May, fears of the
Philippines experiencing the same catastrophes
rumbled like an aftershock. Sitting just below the
country’s capital region, the West Valley Fault
threatens to crush the nation’s central business and political
district. “It’s about time it moved,” experts agree. The last
recorded activity occurred in 1658 or about 357 years ago.
The fault has a recorded 400-year cycle.

Thus, the conclusion: Because of the irresistible laws of


geology, Metro Manila now finds itself directly atop a ticking
natural disaster.

What do we know so far?

As mentioned, we know that the West Valley Fault has a


recorded 400-year cycle. Based on the reports of the Philippine
Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), it shifted
four times in the last 1,400 years, with each movement
occurring roughly around every 300–400 years.

Two, we know that a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck


Central Visayas and some parts of Mindanao in 2013, the
deadliest of its kind within the last 23 years. The quake
affected major cities in Bohol, Negros Occidental, Negros
Oriental, Iloilo, Antique, and even Davao. Although it lasted
only 30 seconds, it leveled more than 73,000 structures and
killed 222 people, aside from leaving 8 missing and 976
injured.

Three, we know that Metro Manila has a population


of 34.6 million persons. Moreover, situated in the country’s

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capital city are malls, casinos, hotels, residential areas, major


universities, high-rise buildings, and an international airport.
The seats of government — the Malacañang Palace, the Senate,
the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court — are
also located within its vicinity, not to mention the dozens of
other governmental agencies and offices.

Four, we know that the country is not a stranger to


devastating natural disasters. The Philippines’ capital city
is no exception. When Ondoy swept Metro Manila with
strong winds and rains that lasted for days in 2009, the
entire region was paralyzed for a week. Reeling from an
overall state of calamity, it lost power and communication
lines and water supply. For a time, the national capital region
remained helpless. And this was just a typhoon — a natural
phenomenon experienced by the country several times a year.

What more when the Big One erupts?

But a number of things still elude some of us, apparently.


How to deal with the Big One is on top of that list.

And alarmingly so.

Just a few months ago, Phivolcs was forced to refute on


its Facebook page a claim that a giant quake will hit Metro
Manila on the weekend of July 25. This is not the first time
such rumors have spread and sowed panic. Numerous times
last year, hoaxes about tsunamis and storm surges hounded
social media and even went viral through text messaging.
This goes to show that many people are still unaware of the
fact that predicting the exact date when an earthquake will
strike is unscientific or impossible.

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Are the walls of Malcolm Hall sturdy


enough to shield us from the impact of a
huge quake?
The government, aiming to learn from Nepal’s tragedy,
appears to be exerting some effort. To prepare the public for
a massive earthquake, it set a Metro Manila-wide drill last
July 30. In line with this endeavor, the Metropolitan Manila
Development Authority (MMDA) assigned various evacuation
centers for the different quadrants of Metro Manila. These
included the University of the Philippines which, along with
the Veterans Memorial Medical Center Golf Course, served
as an evacuation site for the Northern Quadrant.

As the Big One could occur at any time, the probability


of it happening while we are in school is highly likely. It begs
the question: Are we safe inside the campus? Are the walls
of Malcolm Hall sturdy enough to shield us from the impact
of a huge quake?

Students from the Institute of Civil Engineering developed


a pre-earthquake assessment tool in 2013 in order to determine
which buildings in UP Diliman were the least vulnerable based
on their structural integrity. The Rapid Condition Assessment
Tool (RCAsT) used a basic structural score that was modified

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depending on the differences in the attributes of the existing


building and its base structure. The scores were derived using
fragility curves for locally built structures.

The tool assessed the structural configuration and soil


condition of the building, as well as the damage the building
had incurred through the years since its construction. It was
used to evaluate several buildings in UP, including the three
structures in the UP Law Complex: Malcolm Hall, Bocobo
Hall, and Espiritu Hall.

All three received favorable ratings. Despite having been


built at different periods — Malcolm Hall in 1941 (one of the
first in the campus), Bocobo Hall in 1967, and Espiritu Hall in
1983 — each maintained its structural integrity and received
no immediate recommendation for repair, rehabilitation, or
retrofitting. Notwithstanding minor renovations in the last
five years and the formation of small cracks on the ceilings,
these buildings were generally considered safe and no further
action was necessary to keep them that way. Notable is the
fact that all three survived the 1990 Luzon earthquake with
hardly a scratch.

While it is comforting to know that the UP Law Complex


is structurally intact, logistics is an entirely different affair.
In the 2015 Law Student Government elections, concerns
were raised if Malcolm Hall had exit plans for the students,
faculty, and staff once the Big One struck. Considering that
the campus is just five kilometers away from the West Valley
Fault, it is alarming why almost nothing has been done to
address this issue.

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

Even if the UP Law community is housed in a structurally


sound complex, who can tell if its walls can withstand a
predicted 7.8 to 8-magnitude earthquake? All precautions
must be taken to ensure the community’s safety which
means demanding from the college officers the measures
and strategies necessary in case worst comes to worst.

In a survey conducted in Nepal before their major


earthquakes erupted, more than 40% of the respondents
said that they would rather blame themselves instead of
the government or the architects should a quake destroy
their houses and kill their family and friends. Perhaps a
manifestation of distrust towards their authorities, this
view also offers a glimpse of how earthquake-preparedness
campaigns in Nepal could have been improved. The Philippine
government is presented with the opportunity to learn from
Nepal’s musings. It must look deeply into what the country
should do to overcome what seems to be inevitable.

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On Social
Justice and
the Filipino
Languages
Eugene Pedro
PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

2
015 was a controversial year for the country’s
languages. The Commission on Higher Education
began to implement a highly-contested issuance, CHED
Memorandum Order No. 10 (CMO 10), which allegedly
removed Filipino from the mandatory general education
classes to be taught in higher education institutions in the
country. This move triggered protests from the supporters of
the national language policy, whether moderates or radicals,
who called for the obliteration of the non-Tagalog Filipino
languages. A petition anchored on Sections 6 and 7 of Article
XIV of the 1987 Constitution impugning the constitutionality
of CMO 10 is currently pending in the Supreme Court.

In the same year, the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF)


aggressively campaigned for the imposition of the Tagalog
spelling rules contained in its Ortograpiyang Pambansa on
non-Tagalog languages. Ilocanos and Cebuanos, who have
long-standing written traditions which have independently
evolved, were in the forefront of protests against the said
imposition. The KWF claimed that it had the constitutional
and legal mandate to defend the imposition; however, it also
said that a certain language’s orthography is decided by the
people who used that language.

Without delving into the (de)merits of the national language


policy and the true nature of Filipino, I ask: What should the
relationship among the country’s languages be? Although
this essay shall propose a thesis, the question deserves a
further study, if the country is to abandon an outdated
model of nation-building and adopt the more modern model
of plurilingualism espoused by several countries in Europe.

Section 7 of Article XIV decrees that Filipino and, until


otherwise provided by law, English, are the official languages
of the Philippines. It also decrees the regional languages as

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Without delving
auxiliary official languages in the regions
in which they are used. Section 6 exhorts
the government to take steps to initiate and
sustain the use of Filipino as a medium
of official communication, subject to the
provisions of the law and as the Congress
into the (de)
may deem appropriate.

T he wording of these language


merits of the
provisions is confusing and contradictory.
Although the regional languages are the
national language
official languages in the regions, they
are also described as auxiliary. How can
something be official and auxiliary at
policy and the
the same time? Moreover, although the
Filipino language is established as an official true nature of
Filipino, I ask:
language, the government is exhorted to
take steps to initiate and sustain its use as a
medium of official communication. Finally,
what is meant by the phrase “until otherwise
provided by law” in Section 7? What should
One must read the language provisions
together with the other constitutional
provisions to shed light on the confusion
the relationship
and contradiction. Section 1 of Article XIII
(Social Justice) mandates the Congress to
among the
give the highest priority to the enactment
of measures that will remove cultural
inequities, among others. If social justice
country’s
means the removal of cultural inequities,
is there a better way of attaining this goal languages be?
other than by giving non-Tagalog languages
a higher role than merely being the vehicle
of familiar and vulgar communication?

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With the social justice provision in mind, a friend


interpreted the language provisions as conferring upon
regional languages official status in the regions in which
they are spoken. They are auxiliary in the sense that they do
not have official status nationwide. I agree with him. In fact,
I would even go further and interpret the language provisions
as empowering the Congress to provide for the official use
of one or more regional languages nationwide.

Again, the government is to initiate and sustain the use of


Filipino as a medium of official communication. The language
provision uses the indefinite article. The government’s
undertaking is also subject to the provisions of law and what
the Congress may deem appropriate. The Congress may one
day deem it appropriate to provide for the use of one or more
regional languages as a medium of official communication.
Some may argue that the Constitution describes regional
languages as only auxiliary. But following such logic, it seems
that the Congress may provide for the use of another foreign
language as a medium of official communication if it deems
it appropriate. It would be queer and absurd if it can do that
for a foreign language but not for a native Filipino language;
and the law, the Constitution especially, must be presumed
not to have intended such an absurdity.

The above interpretation is the most appropriate and the


most consistent with social justice and the spirit of nation-
building in a multicultural and multilingual context. It needs
to be supported by further studies, but justice for non-Tagalog
Filipino languages must be borne in mind whenever the law is
interpreted. All Filipino languages are a part of our patrimony.
They are equally valid means of expressing nationalism and
patriotism and, as such, must no longer be seen as threats
to national unity.

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Standing
on the
Shoulders
of Giants
Samantha King
PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

W
hile generational experiences are fluid, most
Malcolm Hall memories are not. No one leaves its
corridors without having been affected in some way,
including the people largely responsible for such
impressions — the professors.

Looming larger than life every time they enter the


classroom, shuffle the cards, and call the rolls, these men
and women are the picture of imperturbability. This façade is
enduring, with professors feared before they are appreciated.
And yet, as these essays will show, one can be an outstanding
educator and at the same time remain a sensitive human being.

These scattered glimpses of their lives 10 to 15 years ago


are a testament to the continuing story of Malcolm Hall.

Indeed, the higher the structure, the deeper the foundation.

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The Constitutional Prophet


Atty. Bryan Dennis G. Tiojanco

“Grave abuse of discretion,” Justice Vicente V. Mendoza


said, explaining a key phrase of the Constitution, “is behavior
that is capricious, whimsical, and arbitrary.” Then, as if
unaware of his audience, he added, “like a woman’s.” The class,
a miniature of the College of Law’s current predominantly
female population, reacted with a muted jeer. Justice V.V.,
unsurprised by the response, smiled. “It seems that U.P. is
not what it used to be,” he said.

His knowing, self-deprecating humor may mislead some


to think that the times have left Justice V.V. behind. Now
in his eighties, Justice V.V. remains a strong advocate of the
judicial philosophy he espoused for 22 years as a Justice of
the Court of Appeals (1980-1993) and the Supreme Court
(1994-2003), and even way back since 1970 as a professorial
lecturer. His concern is that, being an unelected branch of the
government, the judiciary should speak on public issues only
when presented with an actual case or controversy. It should
seldom intervene on the ground of grave abuse of discretion.

Justice V.V.’s constitutional prudentialism at first seems at


odds with his own analysis of Philippine government. Filipino
politics has historically featured a dominant chief executive,
he wrote in 1977, in one of the most widely read essays in
Philippine legal history. Congress proved to be an inadequate
counterpoise to the President. The 1987 Constitution’s answer
was to strengthen the judiciary by giving the “least dangerous
branch” corrective powers over grave abuse of discretion

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by the other branches of government. Justice V.V’s view is


that courts should abstain from the unprincipled exercise of
this power when no actual case is involved and instead let
the people fight their battles out in the political arena. In a
republic, the judiciary’s function is not to displace the political
process, but to keep it open and operating.

The theoretical justifications for prudentialism were


elaborated most fully in the 1960s and 70s by Professor
Alexander Bickel of Yale Law School, who described judicial
review as a “deviant institution” in an otherwise democratic
society. It was in 1970 when he published his influential
book, The Supreme Court and the Idea of Progress, close on
the heels of his classic The Least Dangerous Branch. Justice
V.V. was at Yale at that time for an LL.M. degree, when
these ideas were very much in the air. In 1976, he spent the
Fall Term at Harvard as a Visiting Scholar, working closely
with his friend Paul A. Freund, then generally considered the
outstanding authority on American constitutional law and
an advocate of judicial self-restraint.

For Justice V.V., standing, ripeness, mootness, and the


like were tactical, and not merely technical, doctrines. They
trace their proud lineage to the birthplace of judicial review
itself: the 1803 U.S. Supreme Court Marbury v. Madison
decision. In this case, the U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall
resorted to prudentialism to save his court from the certain
embarrassment of having its writ ignored by the U.S. President,
who had threatened to do just that.

Indeed, the history of the United States is replete with


instances of political backlash against a Supreme Court
that failed to exercise prudence. The doctrines of standing,
ripeness, mootness, etc. were in part evolved to save courts
from the embarrassments of executive non-compliance, court
packing, jurisdiction stripping, or impeachment. For the past

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years, our Supreme Court has suffered through many similar


embarrassments. The President unhesitatingly lambasted court
orders. A Philippine Chief Justice was impeached. A Supreme
Court order to clean up Manila bay received inconsequential,
pro forma compliance. Another order, disqualifying an
elected congressperson to sit, was ignored by the House of
Representatives. More and more, it seems that the times, far
from leaving him behind, are intent in proving Justice Vicente
V. Mendoza a true constitutional prophet.

Bryan Dennis Tiojanco is a JSD Candidate


at the Yale Law School. He is a professorial
lecturer at the University of the Philippines,
College of Law. He was Justice Vicente V.
Mendoza’s student in Judicial Review.

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No Goodbyes
Atty. Joan De Venecia

Any law student who has taken Negotiable Instruments


will likely agree with me when I say that it would take an
extraordinarily good professor to make one interested in
studying the dry, archaic, and mostly obsolete law.

Enter Atty. David Emmanuel B. Puyat whom everyone


fondly called “Dave.”  Dave, who ranked 4th in the 1995
Bar Exams, was a founder and one of the name partners of
Puyat Jacinto & Santos, one of the most successful law firms
in the country today. Despite his extremely hectic schedule,
however, Dave found the time to teach at the College of Law,
giving back to his alma mater by sharing his expertise with
his students.

From the moment that Dave entered the Sta. Ana room and
introduced himself to my block (B 2005), with his booming
voice and warm smile, we knew he was special. And that
semester he spent teaching NI to us, we confirmed that he
was a great man.

Here was a practicing lawyer with a beautiful family —


wife Berna Romulo Puyat and two beautiful children Maia
and Vito — to take care of, a law firm to run, and advocacies
to promote (one of which is transitioning to cleaner and
cheaper energy). Here was a man of varied interests, especially
in sports (football, tennis, squash, golf, and basketball). Yet
Dave rarely missed class and really devoted all of class time
to teaching, pausing only to crack a joke or pop a Ricola
candy in his mouth.

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Dave was generous with his time, so much so that he


even offered to, and did, tutor some of my classmates who
were lagging behind. He was also generous with his praise,
never failing to commend a student on a smooth recitation
or a high exam score. He knew that the most effective way to
reach the students, to inspire them to study and excel, was not
to terrorize them into submission, but to teach them well —
that is, to truly teach by imparting knowledge while getting
them to enjoy class by encouraging laughter and fresh ideas.

Needless to say, we, Dave’s students, always looked


forward to his classes, and come Bar exam time, answered
all of the NI questions in Commercial Law with smiles on
our faces, vividly remembering the crazy mnemonics Dave
invented to get us to memorize NI concepts.

Knowing that Dave was so full of life, and lived every


second of his life to the fullest, it came as a complete shock
to us when we learned of his passing at the young age of 42
due to a heart attack. He collapsed while playing football
with his Loyola FC team inside the Ateneo grounds. Efforts to
revive him failed. I was studying abroad then, but I remember
shedding copious amounts of tears by my lonesome upon
learning that he passed away. It has been five years since
Dave left us, yet I still think of him from time to time, more
so now that I am also teaching at the UP College of Law.
I can only hope to follow in his footsteps. Dave Puyat was
a beautiful soul, and the world was made infinitely better
when he was in it.

Professor Joan De Venecia ranked number


one in both her graduating class and the
2005 Bar Exams. At present, she is the Vice
President and General Counsel of Philex
Mining Corporation and teaches Agency &
Partnership.

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Two of a Kind
Atty. Alfredo Molo III

There are two things I want to share.

The first one I am not particularly proud of. It was during


a Labor 2 class one afternoon in the Ambion room. I had yet
to realize it at the time, but you don’t get away with talking
to your seatmates; professors just let you.

Prof. Patricia Salvador Daway or “Ma’am Pats” is known


as a kind soul with boundless patience. That afternoon,
my block tested its limits. As a result, she called my and a
classmate’s attention and then walked out of the room.

In a few minutes, my classmate and I were standing inside


her office in the Office of the College Secretary. We knew our
crime and were prepared for the browbeating we deserved.
None came. Instead, we saw one of the leading lights of Labor
Law shed tears while painstakingly explaining why what we
did was wrong. I have never been more ashamed. She did not
cry out of anger, but of a frustration born of compassion.

And that is who she is. A true teacher. One who masters
her subject not out of pride or desire for fame, but out of an
earnest desire to pass on knowledge to succeeding generations.

I spent the rest of the semester assuaging the grief I


caused her. She remained kind and approachable. We are
now colleagues, but I always utter the words Ma’am Pats
with warm gratitude and respect. She sees students with kind
eyes and has always been patient in directing the misguided
(like me) back to the right path.

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The second thing I want to share is a simple secret: Prof.


Concepcion “Chit” Jardeleza never says No.

There are a few people whose open-door policies are as


wide as that of Ma’am Chit’s. Be it daily recitation struggles,
grades, or exams, she patiently listens. Even students with
financial problems have found a counselor in her.

Sometime in the early 2000s, she guided one such student


and saved him from dropping out. The student’s funds were
falling short because of donor problems. It was mid-semester
and college-funding decisions had to wait for the next round
of meetings. Wandering Malcolm Hall to look for answers
somehow led that student to her office.

He did not expect it, but she welcomed him inside. As he


explained to her his worries, he felt better just by knowing
that someone in the college was there, listening. She gave that
student a piece of advice which solved his financial troubles
for the rest of the semester, enabling him to continue on to
third year.

I will always remember that day when her door opened for
a bewildered and desperate student like me. She has guided
and counseled countless other students and continues to do so
in her trademark style — warm, welcoming, non-judgmental,
and always with patience.

Whenever I find myself in the UP College of Law, I drop


by her office to chat. She has taught me so many things as a
student, but the lessons I fondly dwell upon are those about
how to become a better human being.

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Students are often overwhelmed by the stature of the


college and its aura of excellence. But excellence without heart
makes an institution hollow. And for me, Malcolm Hall is
lucky to have at least two.

Professor Alfredo Molo III is currently the Managing Partner


of Mosveldtt Law. He earned his LLM from the Harvard Law
School (HLS) as a Fulbright Scholar and is a Trustee of the HLS
Alumni Association. He teaches Administrative Law, Agency &
Partnership, and Legal Method.

30 Vol. 1, No. 1 March 2016


PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

Conquering Fear
Atty. Mary Rose Tan

When my batch entered the UP College of Law, Professor


Alberto Jesus T. Muyot, Jr., was teaching Criminal Law.
Naturally, he had the privilege (or, depending on how one
views it, the curse) of initiating law school freshmen who
were hopeful, boastful, anxious, or uncertain.

Learning from Prof. Muyot, I finally understood what


being taught in the grand manner meant. He came to class
punctually, followed his well-researched outline religiously,
and illustrated the concepts through practical examples
consistently. Above all, he showed passion while initiating
us into the legal profession. He ended up teaching Criminal
Law 1, Criminal Law 2, and Torts & Damages to my class.

I did not understand at first how much influence his style


of teaching would have on my own, foremost of which was
the lack of indifference towards students. I came to Malcolm
Hall straight out of college and lacked the experience of being
in a workplace environment (and was a Psychology major at
that). He made me aware of how the law does not exist in
a vacuum and how keeping abreast of current affairs is of
utmost importance in a lawyer.

I recall his way of beginning the class by sharing his


thoughts on how he thinks the peso will devaluate, with
corresponding predictions (gesturing with his index fingers
toward the ceiling) on the devaluation the following day
(which actually happened!). There was another prediction
he made, which, to my consternation, also turned out to
be true — of how my male classmates would become more

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

attractive once they became lawyers and how female lawyers


would find it hard to marry.

One thing he spoke about enlightened me as to what it


entails to be a lawyer. On the occasion of a classmate faltering
during a recitation, he stated in no uncertain terms that a
lawyer should always get a hold of his or her fear, for his or
her client is more fearful — of losing status, property, life,
or liberty. Clients rely entirely on their counsels’ skills. To
me, that lesson encapsulates the responsibility attached to
the title Attorney.

He joined the UNICEF a few years after teaching my class.


He then entered government service as the Undersecretary of
the Department of Education.

One day, while I was listening to the AM radio on my


way to work, I was jolted by a familiar voice.

It was Usec. Muyot, schooling the radio anchor about the


Government’s K-to-12 program. Memories from the time he
taught me flooded back — the terror of being called on to
recite and then being exposed for not knowing the case inside-
out, the curiosity at the myriad of doctrines he explained to
us, the wisdom behind a policy or law, and the hope of one
day being able to make him proud, not just as a lawyer but
also as a human being.

He has since returned to teach at the UP College of Law.


Needless to say, I am very proud to be his colleague. I am
excited for the students who will have the privilege of being
in his classes.

Professor Mary Rose Tan has been a professorial


lecturer at the UP College of Law since 2009
and teaches Torts & Damages and Obligations
& Contracts. She is also the Associate General
Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary of
San Miguel Corporation.

32 Vol. 1, No. 1 March 2016


PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER Vol. 1, No. 1 February 2016

Chief Justice
Maria Lourdes Sereno:

The Higher
Calling

Jose Carlos Marin


with additional reporting by Amapola Española
PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

I
n stark contrast to the other branches of government, the
judiciary is mostly insulated from politics. The Supreme
Court of the Philippines, the highest judicial body, does
not publicly assess the state of the nation or possess the
privilege to speak on any topic according to its whim.

But the tail end of 2011 until mid-2012 was a period


of unprecedented developments in the third branch of
government: Chief Justice Renato Corona was impeached
— the first time in Philippine history for any high-ranking
official in the Philippines — and Associate Justice Maria
Lourdes Punzalan Aranal-Sereno was appointed the first
female Chief Justice. All of these events unfolded while the
public, usually unconcerned with the inner workings of the
Supreme Court, watched closely.

Thus, the most immediate task of Chief Justice Sereno was


to move past the fanfare that attended her historic appointment
and restore public trust and stability to a judiciary rocked
by the previous Chief Justice’s impeachment. In spite of the
public scrutiny, it seems that she succeeded: The Supreme
Court has consistently garnered high public approval ratings
over the past three years.

Chief Justice Sereno has led judicial reforms, particularly


the modernization of court processes. She discussed with
the Register the need for a young lawyer’s idealism in public
service, the public duty of the students and alumni of the
UP College of Law, and the long road to the post of chief
magistrate of the Philippines’ highest court.

Early career
Chief Justice Sereno was born in 1960. Her mother was
a public school teacher, while her father was a native of Siasi,

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

Sulu. Despite their humble means, she continuously excelled


in her studies: She obtained her degree in Economics from
the Ateneo de Manila University in 1980. She later earned
her Bachelor of Laws, cum laude, from the University of
the Philippines, graduating the valedictorian of the Class of
1984 — after having married Mario Jose Sereno while in her
fourth year in law school.

She then joined Sycip Salazar Hernandez and Gatmaitan


Law Offices as a junior associate. She found out, however,
that while being a part of one of the country’s largest law
firms was very much in line with her peers’ expectations of
her career, it was ill suited to starting a family.

“I needed to stay in the office until 9 p.m.,” she said.


“I needed to work Saturdays; holidays would be very much
shortened, if ever available — and that was really no way
to live a harmonious life with my husband, who strongly
believed that family should come first.”

Thus, in 1986, she decided to leave the firm and “life in


the fast lane towards material wealth” to spend time with her
husband and raise their first child. She returned to the UP
College of Law as a professor, going on to teach for the next
20 years. During that time, she also headed two offices in the
UP Law Center: the Information and Publication Division
and the Institute of International Legal Studies.

Her career has since spanned various positions. She


served as a legal counselor at the Appellate Body Secretariat
of the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland; the
chairperson of the Steering Committee of the Preparatory
Commission on Constitutional Reform; the executive director
of the Asian Institute of Management Policy Center; and a
lecturer on International Trade Law at the Hague Academy
of International Law.

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2010 and


became Chief Justice in 2012.

“I don’t think you can talk about where I am now as the


result of planning,” she admitted. “But it was the consistent
practice of certain important principles: to stand by, to
make the right decision based on deep fundamental values
that I had already assessed to be correct and are my own
that I have embraced. Consistently trying to be excellent in
everything I do.”

“Somebody was preparing this for me,” she continued.


“I always attribute this to God who crafted this path for
me. It was really part of a plan — a large plan that I did not
design — that I came to be in this position.”

Hard decisions
Chief Justice Sereno’s departure from life in a large law
firm was only the first of many difficult decisions in the course
of balancing a legal career with a growing family, especially
since the birth of her second child.

During her stint in the UP College of Law faculty, she


was given the opportunity to pursue a Master of Laws degree
at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, as a scholar. This
blessing, however, posed a problem for the mother of two.
“My husband said, ‘That money will not allow our entire
family to go. We must always be intact as a family. If we
cannot go on scholarship, we do not go.’ ”

“I wrote the most audacious letter that any admissions


committee has ever received.” she said. “I told them, ‘You
have to give me a scholarship — a second one. I’m a married
woman, and I have two children and a husband who will
join me.’” She convinced them to give her a grant that would

36 Vol. 1, No. 1 March 2016


PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

be enough for her to take her family with her by saying,


“You are going to make an important decision for married
women. You are basically saying that it is worth it to invest
in married women.”

“I told them to believe in me, that I would deliver,” she


said. “And I did.”

Having risen above all the difficult choices she had to


make, she offered these words to the young and unsure, as
she too was once: “If it’s right, it will always be right. Just
be patient. Don’t foreclose the possibility that it will turn
out right in another form. Don’t shape the outcome in your
own particular configuration, to what you have in mind. It
might turn out to be a different way. So, stick to your decision
because it is right. It will be validated in the end. But you
have to really be patient.”

She made a gentle reminder to those who let insecurities


get the best of them: “You should never let people make
conclusions for you. ‘You’re not successful!’ or ‘You’re not
good enough!’ No, you decide that for yourself. You know
what’s inside yourself.”

A call to service
While her rise to the office of Chief Justice was not
planned, it was preceded by a lifelong dedication to service.
“When I was much younger, I always had this image of a
heroine, a journalist crusading against a big evil or a Joan
of Arc type. The Greeks would call it a call to glory, but I
would call it a call to service.”

Only in the UP College of Law did she realize where she


could best render this service. “I did not think that it would
be government service in particular. But when I went to the

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

law school, then the opportunity to introduce change into our


society through state agencies became very clear. I knew then,
at that point, I could be of utmost help in the public service.”

She assured prospective lawyers that there was room for


ambition and idealism. The same causes for disillusionment
with the legal profession existed in both private and public
practice. The difference, however, is that a public servant was
charged with the duty to reject unscrupulousness.

She moved past merely enjoining UP Law graduates


to serve the Filipino people, emphasizing that it was not
something left to their pleasure, but was their obligation.
“UP Law graduates should try to consider a career in the
judiciary, in the allied arms of the justice sector. They should
also try to find good places in government to help and be
leaders in those areas.”

“The UP Law graduate already has the benefit of a public


that prizes each of them. In other words, you are always
going to be given a special place, but you have to show, every
day, that you deserve that place in people’s hearts. You have
to prove that what you want to do is to serve and not just
aggrandize yourself and your limited interests,” she added.

A message to the UP Law community


As a graduate of UP College of Law herself, and having
taught in the same for 20 years, the Chief Justice easily saw
past the esteem and glamour usually associated with Malcolm
Hall. It was apparent that she held the College of Law to
the same lofty and sobering standard of excellence that she
constantly tried to uphold.

She cautioned the UP College of Law against developing


a sense of entitlement. “To a certain extent, we are excellent.

38 Vol. 1, No. 1 March 2016


PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

“The UP Law graduate already has


the benefit of a public that prizes
each of them. In other words, you
are always going to be given a
special place, but you have to
show, every day, that you deserve
that place in people’s hearts. You
have to prove that what you
want to do is to serve and not
just aggrandize yourself and your
limited interests.”
– Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

We’re topping the exams; we’re occupying the most important


positions in the country. But has it bred a thinking that we
are entitled to this? That somehow, we do not have the duty
to bring the excellence that we have to others? To what
extent did we impart this spirit of excellence to other law
schools? Or were we content with self-propagation? I think
those questions must be asked if we are to be meaningful
contributors to democracy.”

Even as she recognized the UP College of Law’s past


achievements in the Bar exams, she also warned against
stigmatizing those who did not make the cut. “I’ve never
believed that if you flunk the bar, you are doomed. So I have
always advocated the fact that we are wrong as a society to
allow those who do not pass the bar to feel dejected.”

“We are wrong to not offer them an alternative career,”


she insisted. “They have gone through so much education —
that must count for something. Regardless of whether or not
they finally make the grade, we have to find a place for them
where they can be most productive and where their honor
is intact.”

She lent her voice to the call for a better Bar Examination.
To the law school students, she offered these words: “It is
a competitive world, and you will compare grades because,
unfortunately, that’s the only system that is in place. Until
we’re able to find a Bar examination that is more meaningful,
you have to just live with it for now. But we have to reform
the system.”

She reserved her final words for the professors and


alumni, calling on them to help keep the sense of integrity
and willingness to serve alive in students and young lawyers.
“You were idealistic once. Some of you are still idealistic,”
she said. “It is our duty to the young people of the College

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PHILIPPINE LAW REGISTER

of Law to bring that idealism back to the college and to


the profession. We must show them that our generation is
willing to talk with the young people about the values that
are genuine and give meaning to the noble profession we call
law. There is so much evil already; we don’t need to lessen
their hope that they can still fight for what is right. It is our
duty to show them the way forward.”

“It is not good to be cynical.” she said. “It doesn’t


help, doesn’t contribute to uplifting any individual or any
institution — much less an institution that is as devoted to
high and lofty ideas as the UP College of Law. We must never
tell our young people that they should stop trying fighting
and striving always for what is good. It is time to stop saying
that we cannot change. We can change. And the young people
must see clearly that resolve to change within us.”

Vol. 1, No. 1 March 2016 41


A
From the reestablishment and
relaunch of the Register, we now have
our sights set on expanding our pool

search
of talent and perspectives.

The Register will continue to


feature journalistic writing and

begins
photography, opinion pieces, and
legal, social, political, and cultural
critique. We are committed to
incisive, thought-provoking, and

anew well-written commentary on


current affairs and other themes
relevant to the UP Law community.

Student writers and photographers


from the UP College of Law are invited
to apply for the next issue. Please
send the latest copy of your curriculum
vitae to phlawregister@gmail.com
(subject line: “[Application] Writer” or
“[Application] Photographer” with your
name) along with two to three sample
works for writers, and five to eight
sample photos for photographers.

Contributions are also encouraged


from students, faculty, and alumni
alike. Please send works in
the abovementioned vein to
phlawregister@gmail.com
(subject line: “[Contribution]” along
with the title of your work). Please
attach a .docx file and include an
abstract of 200 words or less in the
body of the email.