February 4, 2012
ANGARA URGES UP LAW TO RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
Senator Edgardo J. Angara challenged the University of the Philippines College of Law to lead the country in this age of global law schools during the 12th UP Law Centennial Lecture he delivered on Friday.
"Opportunities to study abroad are no longer a part of a grant but a component of mainstream curriculum," said Angara. "Many great law schools of the world have mutual exchange programs. This development has become globally epidemic. But Philippine teaching and practice of law remains impervious to it.
"Our profession firmly discourages foreign entanglements. Foreign legal scholars may not teach credited courses in Philippine law schools, let alone practice before our courts. The Philippine legal profession, despite its evident talents, fears international competition."
Angara recalled the rich history of the college. The UP Board of Regents initially turned down a proposal to set up the college despite the explicit mandate of the university's charter. George Malcolm, who would become the college's first dean, believed this reflected a bias against Filipinos' suitability for the practice.
"The colonial authorities, of course, were wrong. The success of many of our alumni in the practice of law, or in using its discipline in other fields, attests to the flaw in their colonial assessment," said Angara, who served as UP President from 1981-1987.
Malcolm first convinced the American and European Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) to offer a law curriculum in English which it did in 1910. The public received this enthusiastically, prompting the UP BOR to pass the enabling resolution in January 12, 1911 creating the UP College of Law.
The college finally opened its doors to students on July 11, 1911. Angara cited the accomplishments of its alumni, most of whom have served the country through the legal profession, as well as in education, arts, business, media, military, and even religion.
Angara said, "The first graduating class produced Manuel Roxas, the first President of the Republic; Ricardo Paras, Jr., Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; and Senator Alejandro de Guzman. Eulogio Benitez served in the House of Representatives; Emilio Hilado and Quirino Abad Santos became famous judges; and Feliciano Ocampo, public service commissioner.
"U.P. Law's tradition of public service continues to this day, in all the branches of government," said Angara. "As nowhere else, you will see constant shifting among the alumni, from private to public life, and back again. As though the U.P. lawyer feels he has dues to pay to society for the privilege of his education, in part at the public's expense."
Angara then challenged both students and faculty of the UP College of Law, to internationalize its curriculum. "History is not enough; the future beckons to the next generation of U.P. lawyers. Can they do as distinguished alumni have done--for country, for college and, being lawyers, pretty well for themselves?
He reminded the college that, "Law schools are not established to create great men for great moments, but to make excellent everyday lawyers to protect good men in the ordinary course of law.
Lawyers who, from that everyday but necessary vocation, rise to greatness will owe their eminence not from the school they attended, but from the conscience, values and the wisdom they acquire on their own."
Angara, who Chairs the UP Law Centennial Commission, also announced that the commission has raised P1.13 billion for the college to date, to fund projects which include the anticipated construction of the UP Graduate School in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, the construction of a dormitory for UP Law students, and the funding of student scholarships and faculty development.
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