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The UNIVERSITY of SAN AGUSTIN - College of Law Humble Story

For more than six decades now, the University of San Agustin College of Law has maintained its prestige as among the country’s better law schools. Its excellence is shown in its numerous topnotchers, prominent graduates and countless awards.

With the start of the Second World War in December 1941, Classes stopped. Students who survived the war, however, went back to their books with enthusiasm in 1946. Two years later, the College produced its first seven Attorneys and its first Bar Topnotcher. Antonio Montelibano cooped 3rd Place with 91.75%. Other Bar Topnotchers are: Wenceslao Dela Paz, 3rd place (1963), Carmelo Betita, 7th place (1963), Mario Guariña III, 2nd place (1967), Eduardo Aguillon, 9th place (1971), Ricardo Chu, Jr., 3rd place (1972), Dolores Abad-Alinio, 3rd place (1984), Ma. Elena Opinion, 10th Place (1985), Cyril Regalado, 7th place (1988).

When Atty. Benjamin H. Tirol became Dean in 1947, the College continued earning a reputation for quality education and a good bar record. It had the biggest library in the region with 3,000 volumes of law books and it had examinees who missed the top ten in the bar examination by just a hairline. In the same year, Ms. Concepcion Novera who later became Mrs. Jose Amamanglon, both Augustinian lawyers, founded the Portia Club for lady law students. Sigma Alpha Lex, the law student fraternity, however, has existed since 1939.

After two decades of dedicated service, Dean Benjamin H. Tirol relinquished his position to an equally worthy and brilliant professor, Atty. Corazon C. Miraflores in 1968 and who was later succeeded by Dr. Cesar T. Tirol in 1977. Because of its pursuit for academic excellence, the College received its initial PAASCU accreditation on December 7, 1979, the first law school ever to be so accredited in the Philippines.

In 1978, Augustinian lawyers unfolded and left a remarkable trace in the history of the College of Law when 20 out of its 21 candidates successfully passed the bar examinations.

In its continued pursuit for academic excellence and its unbending commitment to produce Augustinian lawyers, the College of Law finally opened its Pre-Bar Review Class in 1981, the first and only review class outside Metro Manila.

On March 26, 1983, the USA College of Law was reaccredited by the PAASCU for another five to seven years. On the same year, the Federation of Accrediting Agencies of the Philippines (FAAP) certified its law Program as having satisfied the standards for deregulated status, Level II.

Because of its gigantic and incomparable performance both in its academic instruction and in the bar examinations, on March 15, 1988, the Department of Education Culture and Sports (DECS) awarded the College of Law a Certificate of Recognition for its meritorious performance in the Bar Examination from 1987-1989. This recognition was reechoed by the DECS on the November 15, 1988 issue of the INQUIRER considering the College as among the country’s better law schools. On December 3, 1988 issue of the PANORAMA MAGAZINE, Dean Bartolome Carale quoting that “…while the U.P has a good law school, there are strong competitors such as Ateneo, San Beda and perhaps, the University of San Agustin in Iloilo” reemphasized the same recognition. The DECS granted the College the authority to graduate students without the need for special Orders (DECS Order No. 51, series of 1993). This authority is valid as long as the accredited status (Level III) is maintained.

The unwavering achievements of the USA College of Law were products of more than fifty years of uncompromising, unselfish and untiring desire for academic excellence of the mentors of the College. Few to mention are the known old guards whose names became identical with the subjects they taught: Judge Luis Hervas, with Natural Law; Atty. Corazon C. Miraflores, with Civil Law; and Atty. Wilfrido J. Ladrido, with Criminal Law. However, they have faded from the scene as all of us will.

In December 1997, Atty. Juana Judita P. Panigbatan-Nafarrete, an alumna of the College of law (Class ’94), was appointed Dean of the College after she finished her Master of Laws degree (Summa Cum Laude) from the University of Sto. Tomas through a scholarship grant sponsored by the University of San Agustin.

At the start of her administration, she strictly implemented the “Quality Admission, Quality Retention Policy”, which is geared towards academic excellence and to improve the passing percentage of the College of Law in the Bar Examinations.

The “Model Law Curriculum” was revised and took effect during the First Semester of Academic Year 2000-2001 after the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) approved it. The revision is intended to produce more Augustinian Lawyers. One of the salient features of the revised Law Curriculum is the inclusion of the Comprehensive Examination in the fourth year which is akin to the Bar Examination.

According to the 1999 Bar Examinations Statistical Data from the Supreme Court, the College of Law of the University of San Agustin is still the best law school in Panay and in Western Visayas in terms of passing percentage in the Bar Examinations.

On September 29, 2000, the Bar Review Room was renamed as the “ Atty. Wilfrido J. Ladrido Memorial Hall” in honor of the late grand old man Atty. Wilfrido J. Ladrido for his dedicated service to the College of Law.

In order to help Law graduates financially, the College of Law through the Bar Review Center continues to offer Bar Review Classes, which are conducted by the competent members of its faculty with updates and trends lectured by legal luminaries from the Philippine Judicial Academy and prominent Bar Review Centers in Manila.

Cognizant of today’s new trends in alternative lawyering, the College of Law launched the Center for Alternative Law last February 14, 2001. Atty. Danny Valenzuela is the Director of the Center.

The Center is one of the only six centers in the Philippines, and the only in Western Visayas. It was instituted to address the present concerns in the legal profession by providing an avenue for education and training to law students, practitioners and the community. It is part of the University Outreach Program. It focuses on activities of continuing legal education in the field of alternative law. It emphasizes on the advocacy and promotion of the rights of special sectors of society. To be able to realize its objectives and activities, it has established linkages with other alternative law groups namely: the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Panpili, USA Martin de Rada Human Rights Center, Ateneo Human Rights Center, U.P. Institute of Human Rights and other non-governmental and cause-oriented organizations. The Center has three lawyer volunteers and twelve student volunteers. The Center has provided free legal counseling and pro bono representation to indigents litigants. Its paralegal volunteers participate in Internship trainings on alternative law sponsored by some of the organizations aforementioned every summer.

The College of Law produced a number of distinguished graduates. Among them are: City Prosecutor Fe Gayanilo (Class ’75) and Provincial Prosecutor Daniel Amular (Class ’82), both alumni of the College of Law, received national distinctions as Outstanding Public Prosecutor during the 10th Annual Awards for Judicial Excellence. Prosecutor Gayanilo was conferred the Senator Lorenzo Tañada Award, as Outstanding Public Prosecutor of the Philippines while Prosecutor Amular was the recipient of the Sen. Ambrosio Padilla Award as Outstanding Public Prosecutor. Judge Edgar Garvilles (Class ’66), RTC Bacolod, received the Judicial Excellence Award for Western Visayas during the Centennial Celebration of the Supreme Court. Resurreccion Borra, an alumnus of the College of Law (Class ’60), is now a Commissioner of the Commission of Elections. Maria Guariña III (Class ’67) is now a Justice of the Court of Appeals. He was awarded the National Judicial Excellence Award during the Supreme Court’s Centennary.

A number of the College’s graduates are judges, prosecutors and heads of government offices. Others are successful businessmen, politicians and private practitioners.

During the Centennial Celebration of the Supreme Court, the University of San Agustin College of Law was awarded as one of the ten law schools in the Philippines with a “Model Centennial Law Library”. Currently, the USA College of Law Library has four (4) air condition units and it has the following library facilities and resources: 1) Nine (9) Updated Computer disks (LEX LIBRIS) a0 Jurisprudence – The Philippine Supreme Court Reports 1901-1998; b) Jurisprudence Lex Libris Bulletins 1999-2002 1st Release; c) Laws Philippine Edition; d) Laws Lex Libris Bulletins 1st Release 2003; e) Taxation Philippine Edition 2002; f) Taxation Lex Libris Bulletins 1st Release 2003; g) Local Autonomy and Local Government; h)Environment and Natural Resources Vol. 6; I)Labor and Social Legislation Vol. 7; 2)Updated Collection of Books including SCRA (Supreme Court Reports Annotated) from Vol. 1 – Vol. 359; 3)Selected Journals/Legal Periodicals such as Official Gazettes, Lawyers Review and etc.; 4)Two units of computers (1 unit for OPAC – On line Public Access Catalog and 1 unit for INTERNET). Alumni of the College of Law are allowed to research at the College of Law Library after securing the Alumni card and after payment of a reasonable fee.

All classrooms of the College of Law are now air condition in order to enhance learning.

Since the year 2000 and every year thereafter, Bar operations are conducted in Manila to give moral support to the Bar candidates. Some officers of the SIGMA ALPHA LEX and students of the College of Law together with some members of the faculty of the College go to Manila during the four Sunday of the Bar Examinations.

The University of San Agustin Law Alumni Association, Inc., (USALAAI) was reorganized on August 24, 2002. Alumni from Manila, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan and Antique attended the reorganizational meeting and election of officers. Atty. George O. Que was elected President. The Alumni association is now busy preparing for the Centennial Celebration of the University in July 2004.

As the University of San Agustin Celebrates its 100 years of existence on July 15, 2004, the following were given recognition as Outstanding Alumni of the Century: Evelyn C. Jiz (1965) - Community Service; Agustin Misola (1953) – Culture and the Arts; Daniel Antonio Gerardo S. Amular (1982), Ressureccion Borra (1960), Jesse Caberoy (1978), Wenceslao R. Dela Paz (1963), Fe G. Gayanilo (1975), Mario L. Guariña III (1967), Irene S. Panigbatan (1961) – Government Service; Ricardo Pio C. Castro Jr. (1974), Ricardo T. Chu (1972), Edgar G. Garvilles (1966), Ramon A. Gonzales (1955), Raymundo Julio Olaguer (1989), Cesar T. Tirol (1955) – Law; Gerardo Flores (1977) – Military Service.


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