Ilonggo moot court team wins SEA environmental law tilt

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Another team from the University of San Agustin-College of Law (USA COL) in Iloilo City is the regional champion of the South East Asian Regional Rounds of the 27th International Environmental Moot Court Competition (IEMCC) of Stetson Law on Friday, Feb 3, 2023.

The 5-member team beat the National University of Singapore on Friday to clinch the championship. The team reached the finals after beating erstwhile top seeders from the University of the Philippines-College of Law in the semifinals.

They competed in a court-like setup simulating the International Court of Justice and debated on an imaginary problem between two opposing states about the welfare of sharks as well as piracy in bodies of water.

The team’s speakers – Blessie Marie Cawaling and Marco Giorgione Dava – also garnered Second Overall Best Speaker and Best Speaker (Preliminaries), and Best Speaker (Finals), respectively.

The team researchers are Quemel Charles Malte, Rency Joseph Ponce de Leon, and Descartes Roldan.

Cawaling is a familiar name as she was part of the team that also led the USA-COL to victory in the 2021 National Moot Court Competition on International Humanitarian Law, and represented the country during the virtual regional rounds, where they landed in the quarterfinals. She was also hailed as the 2nd Best Mooter.

Dava, a first-year law student, expressed disbelief in their win while crediting his success to the support of his family, friends, classmates, and seniors.

He said that they trained for 6 months, virtually and physically, with faculty and alumni as coaches and mock judges.

“As a first-time mooter and a freshman, I am still in disbelief. It’s amazing to look back at how many people believed that I could do it. Surely this victory isn’t mine alone and I can’t be any prouder to have stood on the shoulders of my seniors,” he told Daily Guardian.

“We held virtual meetings almost 6 times a week and met in-person during the last few weeks before the competition. Our organization, The Parliament, and our coaches and professors were really hands-on in preparing us as well,” he added.

They were coached by lawyer and Daily Guardian columnist Anfred Panes, who also serves as adviser to The Parliament, the moot court organization of the college, as well as Jeff Earl Nuñez, who also serves as the organization’s Prime Minister.

Panes attributed the win to the “collective efforts” of the team, fellow students, the faculty, and the administration of the college and the university, whether it be in preparing for the competition or providing support.

More than gratitude, Panes recognized that there is a bigger challenge as the team is set to compete on a bigger stage – the Global Rounds of the 27th IEMCC to be held this April.

“The first-ever distinction of the University of San Agustin College of Law to win the Championship during the 2023 Stetson Annual International Environmental Moot Court Competition Southeast Asian Regional Rounds is a culmination of all the efforts of the student-speakers, researchers, coaches, advisers, and the rest of the College of Law Faculty.  The University likewise never wavered with their support to the moot court competitions we participated in, be it national or international,” Panes said in a statement.

“Our gratitude is overwhelming for all the support we received and the efforts which resulted in outstanding fruition in keeping with the University’s drive for excellence. The international rounds in Florida, USA which we have been qualified to represent the Philippines is a more daunting challenge, but we never lose our focus because ever since, we started this journey with our whole hearts with dedication, passion, and goal to win,” he added.

Nuñez reiterated their adviser’s statement and expressed their “hunger” for more wins.

“We note that much of our success is built upon the shoulders of our predecessor-mooters who took the time to help their successors learn the ropes and the overflowing support of our College, dean, and faculty,” he said.

“At the core of it all, I believe this is the foundation of our school’s strength, notwithstanding the individual talent of our members. We are hungry for 3 more victories in the international/global rounds.”

This is the first time that the USA-COL won in the IEMCC, after their highest placement as semifinalists back in 2021.

It also places the college in a “triple crown” position, with their championship win in the 2022 National Moot Court Competition and 1st runner-up finish in the Monroe E. Price Media Law Moot Court Competition.

The competition’s Global Rounds will be held at Stetson Law’s campus in Gulfport, Florida, USA, from April 13 to 15, 2023.