USA Law hosts second leg of lecture series with Spanish law professors

The University of San Agustin College of Law hosted on Nov 27, 2020 the online lecture of Prof. José Manuel de Torres Perea, a civil law professor of the Facultad de Derecho of the Universidad de Málaga (UMA), Spain who is no stranger to USA, Iloilo, and Guimaras, which he has visited many times in the past.

Prof. de Torres’ lecture was the second in the series of online lectures by Spanish law professors conceptualized by USA Law’s Atty. Joenar Pueblo.

The November 14, 2020 inaugural lecture of UMA’s Prof. Alejandro Sánchez Frías on international maritime law was also attended by the professors and students of the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University.

Prof. de Torres’ lecture on the civil law principle of accion pauliana was attended by more than 250 law students and faculty members of USA Law. It is only one of the fruits of the deep personal and professional bonds between him and Prof. Ruben F. Balane of UP College of Law and Ateneo Law School, and Prof. Solomon Lumba of the UP College of Law, who were both present during the lecture.

While accion pauliana comprises but a small portion of the Civil Codes of both Spain and the Philippines, the lecture of Prof. de Torres was an eye-opener.

He discussed the provisions of the Spanish Civil Code (SCC) and related these to their counterparts in the Philippine Civil Code (PCC). Examples are SCC Art. 1911 and PCC Art. 2236; SCC Art. 1121 and PCC Art. 1188; SCC Art. 1111 and PCC Art. 1177; SCC Arts. 1290 – 1299 and PCC Arts. 1380-1389; SCC Art. 643 and PCC Art. 759.

While he was reading the English translations of particular articles of the SCC, USA College of Law Dean Jose Mari Tiril said he was reading their practically identical counterparts in the PCC.

In fact, the articles of the 70-year old PCC explicitly refer to their origins: the particular articles of the old PCC, which is actually the SCC.

Prof. de Torres introduced the audience to many interesting pieces of information, such as the author of the SCC (and indirectly, the PCC): Florencio García Goyena, and the far more intriguing actual name of accion pauliana: “interdictum fraudatorium”.

But what made his lecture even more meaningful was his exposition into how the Spanish (and consequently, the Philippine) Civil Code came to include accion pauliana as one of the remedies of a creditor, its pros and cons, and the possible criminal liability that the debtor may incur.

In other words, his lecture was not just about “what is”, but also “why it is”, “what if”, and “what could be”. He gave us a better understanding and appreciation of the law, and of the need to study its history and development in order to fully understand it.

Philippine jurisprudence has given accion pauliana a local flavor. Its interpretation in Spain is understandably not on all fours with ours. This is not surprising – to quote Holmes, “the life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience.”

The separate evolutions of accion publiciana and other legal principles that we share with Spain deserve our attention.

We need to see how these principles have been interpreted, applied, and developed in both jurisdictions. We need to discover the best practices of both countries, and hopefully produce a body of legal principles that will be more in tune with their shared needs and aspirations.

The best, if not the only way to do this is for Spanish and Filipino legal academics to nurture and strengthen the historico-legal ties that Profs. de Torres and Balane rekindled. These series of lectures is but one way for us to improve our legal curriculum, and consequently to further capacitate our graduates in providing access to justice to all, in virtus et scientia.

USA College of Law looks forward to further lectures from our Spanish colleagues, and to future collaborations under the Capacity Building for Legal and Social Advancement in the Philippines (CALESA), a consortium between Philippine and Spanish law schools spearheaded by Prof. de Torres and Prof. Lumba, of which USA Law is one of four member-law schools from the Philippines.