Ilonggo law students bag moot court victory again

(From left) Jeff Earl Nuñez, Marie Dominique Lavalle, Ancel D’Cunha, Julienne Dela Pieza, Ervin Gedmaire Caro, and their adviser, Atty. Anfred Panes, after winning the 2022 National Moot Court Competition on International Humanitarian Law in Pasay City, which culminated on October 14. (Photo by Mary Andrea Managaytay)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The team of Iloilo City-based University of San Agustin-College of Law (USA-COL) defended its title for the second year in a row at the 2022 National Moot Court Competition on International Humanitarian Law this week.

In a repeat of last year’s performance, the team again bested erstwhile top-seeders from the University of the Philippines College of Law during the final round on Friday.

USA-COL also bested nine other teams from other schools across the country.

They also won Best Memorial in both the Prosecution and Defense sides, while their speakers bagged accolades, including for Ancel D’Cunha (Justice Leonor Ines Luciano Memorial Award, Best Speaker and Best Mooter for the Preliminary Rounds) and Ervin Gedmaire Caro (Second Best Speaker, Preliminary Rounds).

The Ilonggo team also bagged 3rd place in the Role-play Challenge of the competition.

They were coached by Daily Guardian columnist Atty. Anfred Panes and Jeff Earl Nuñez, who also led last year’s team to the school’s first championship title.

Panes is the adviser, and Nuñez the Prime Minister of The Parliament, USA-COL’s organization for moot court competitions and debates.

The team also includes Julienne Dela Pieza (team leader), and researchers Marie Dominique Lavalle and Mary Andrea Managaytay.

The moot “problem”, which they had to make a case for, involved the application of International Humanitarian Law concepts to armed conflicts, coupled with some aspects of International Environmental Law.

D’Cunha, a freshman law student, said that the feeling was “surreal”, emphasizing that the whole team was on a “high level of joy”.

“I have nothing but gratitude in my heart for our coach, our mentors, and the team for all the hard work we have done, and for the USA-College of Law, faculty and fellow students of which have been instrumental in paneling us and making sure we came to the competition prepared,” said D’Cunha.

“I hold this team championship award and my best mooter awards close to my heart, knowing I couldn’t have done it without the help of these very important people. From the deepest reaches of my heart, thank you all, you deserve this victory just as much. This high will not die anytime soon. Bulahan kamo, USA-CoL!” He added.

On his part, Caro said that while there was indeed pressure to keep the school’s crown, the same pushed them to commit to maintaining the title for USA-COL.

“I personally thank the International Humanitarian Law Bulahan Team, The Parliament family for extending their expertise and knowledge, the faculty members of the USA College of Law headed by Dean Jose Mari Francisco Tirol, and to our coaches, Atty. Anfred Panes and Jeff Earl Nuñez,” Caro told Daily Guardian.

As to their preparations, Dela Pieza shared that they had to schedule based on considerations of their own class and work schedules, since both Caro and D’Cunha were working students.

The scheduling constraints, according to her, were the biggest challenge in their initial preparation stages.

She, Lavalle, and Managaytay led the creation of case digests and highlighting pertinent information to the resolving moot problem.

“We had to make sure we are on the same page to visualize what the actual moot problem presents,” she said.

She also mentioned that team members actually got sick during the competition and had to adjust themselves accordingly, but added that “We had to remind ourselves to focus on our goal and push through the competition.”

The victory, according to Panes, was definitely another feather in his cap as the organization’s adviser and the team’s coach, likewise giving credit to the fervent support of the USA-COL community.

He also stated that their preparations indicated how the team, consisting of law students, would definitely make great lawyers in the future.

“Behind this resounding success are the late-night discussions, academic argumentation, research and writing on top of law school commitments. I see great potentials of these young aspiring lawyers who really excel in every engagement they put their minds into. To represent the country in the international rounds in Hong Kong is a shared challenge. To prepare and achieve the best result is a shared success. Humbly I can say, Bulahan ka Agustino!” Panes said.

USA-COL Dean Jose Mari Benjamin Francisco Tirol said that while they do support the students, their victories are theirs while being honed by the institution.

He echoed Panes’ statement, saying that the college’s thrust in competitions like these help them to become better lawyers when they finally engage in the practice.

“[USA-COL] is very proud of its Moot Court Team. The collective and individual successes of the Team and its members can be attributed to their respective talents and capacities. We in the [USA-COL] merely harness and hone their skills in an environment—physical, mental, and emotional—that encourages teamwork between and among the students, staff, and teachers, and nurtures the search for the truth thru critical thinking,” Tirol said.

“[USA-COL] believes that our success in moot court competitions, like our performance in the bar examinations and our linkages with other law schools nationally and internationally, enable us to train and develop future lawyers who will be conscious of, responsive to, and be advocates of the needs of society, in accordance with the Rule of Law,” he added.

The team will once again represent the Philippines in the Regional Moot Court Competition on International Humanitarian Law in Hong Kong early next year.

For this stage of the competition, Dela Pieza said that they would familiarize themselves more with the application of jurisprudence and international law, as well as actual current events and the possible implications in the changing world.