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History of College of Law 

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 topnotcher, 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 copped 3rd place with 91.75 percent. The other new lawyers were Mariano Toledo, Federico Torre, Patricio Miguel, Vicente Bello, Vicente Abalajon and Alfredo Ladrido.

When Atty. Benjamin Tirol became dean in 1947, the College continued earning a reputation for quality education and a good bar record. It has 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, the Portia Club for lady law students was founded by Ms. Conception Novera who later became Mrs. Jose Amamangio, both Augustinian lawyers. Sigma Alpha Lex, the law student fraternity, however, has been existing since 1939.

In the 60s, the USA College of Law was again in the headline for having three bar topnotchers: Wenceslao De La Paz, who bagged the 3rd place and Carmelo Betita, the 7th place in 1963; Mario Guariña III, who landed 2nd place in 1967.

After two decades of dedicated service, Dean Benjamin H. Tirol relinquished his position to an equally worthy and brilliant professor, Atty. Corazon M. Miraflores in 1968 and who was later succeeded by Dr. Cesar T. Tirol in 1977.

Indeed, the College had not ended bagging its laurels. In the 1971 bar examination, Eduardo Aguillon garnered the 9th place, and the year after, Ricardo Chu, Jr. placed 3rd . Earlier, Professor Ladrido had predicted he would garner any of the three places. 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 graduates unfolded and left a remarkable trace in the history of the College of Law when 20 out of 21 candidates successfully passed the bar examination.

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, then 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 III.

The College soared higher in the 80's. More Augustinian bar examinees landed in the top ten, and its passing percentage was far higher than that of the national passing percentage. In the 1984 Bar examination, Dolores P. Abad placed 3rd . In 1985, Ma. Elena Gallenero-Opinion got the 10th place and in 1988, Cyril Regalado landed 7th place. The bar examinees in 1987, including Ben de los Reyes who graduated magna cum laude in 1986, made a big leap when they achieved the soaring 47 percent passing percentage as compared to the 17.8 percent national passing percentage.

Because of its gigantic and incomparable performance both in its academic instruction and in the bar examination, the Department of Education Culture and Sports (DECS) awarded the College of Law a Certificate of Recognition on March 15, 1988 for its meritorious performance in the Bar examination from 1987-1988. The 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. The same recognition was reemphasized by Dean Bartolome Carale, U.P. College of Law, in the December 3, 1988 issue of the Panorama Magazine, 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.” 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 UISA 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 have become 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 Law degree (Summa Cum Laude) from the University of Santo 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 it was approved by the Commission on Higher Education. The revision is intended to better the passing percentage in the Bar Examination. One of the salient features of the Revised Law Curriculum is the inclusion of the Comprehensive Examination in the fourth year which is intended to prepare law graduates academically and psychologically for the Bar examinations.

According to the 1999 Bar Examination Statistical Data from the Supreme Court, the College of Law of the University of San Agustin is still the BEST Law School in Panay 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 the 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 conduct Bar Review classes. The competent members of the College of Law faculty lecture on the basic provisions of law while updates and trends are 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 on February 14, 2001. Atty. Danny Valenzuela is the Director of the Center.

The Center is one of the 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, Panlipi, USA Martin de Rada Human Rights Desk and other non-governmental organizations. The Center has three lawyer volunteers and twelve student volunteers. It celebrated its first anniversary on February 14,2002.

The Center for Alternative Law has already been engaged in providing free legal counseling to indigent clients. The center entered its appearance in the case entitled “Magbanua v. Western Visayas Medical Center” regarding the operation of incinerators. This is a case involving environmental law which is currently pending in one of the courts here in the City of Iloilo. It also sponsored a symposium entitled “Rights of Indigenous Peoples” on September 20,2001 with presiding Commissioner Evelyn Dunuan from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples as guest speaker. Elijo Herrera, one of the center’s paralegal volunteers, was sent as a representative of the Center and the College of Law to the Seminar on Guardian Ad Litem sponsored by the Philippine Judicial Academy and the Ateneo Human Rights Center. Currently, the Center for Alternative Law is conducting a series of lectures on the Katarungang Pambarangay Law at different municipalities. It started with the municipality of Carles, Iloilo. It sent two paralegal volunteers namely: Jeeli Espinosa and Rodel Taton to attend the Symposium on Restorative Justice sponsored by the Integrated Correctional Association of the Philippines in coordination with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), the Parole and Probation Administration (PPA) and the Volunteers in Prison Service (VIPS) on October 5, 2001 at the Four Seasons Hotel. It was one of the participants to the 2nd Non-Governmental Organization-Peoples’ Organization Week in Iloilo on December 3-7,2001. It provided free legal services to indigent clients. On the occasion of the celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it co-sponsored with the College of Law a Symposium entitled “An Overview of the Creation of the International Criminal Court” on December 10,2001 with Dr. Cristina Gates, Secretary-General, Center for Restorative Justice in Asia as speaker.

Two student volunteers of the Center namely: Mylene Fernandez and Lorevi Setias participated in the 2002 Ateneo Human Rights Center Summer Internship Program. Expenses fare, accommodation and allowance were d by shouldered by the Ateneo Human Rights Center. A case study on Indigenous Peoples of Barangays Busog and Culyat, Valderrama, Antique was conducted on September 21-22, 2002.

The Center for Alternative Law has established linkages with the PANLIPI, Ateneo Human Rights Center and other non-governmental organizations.

City Prosecutors 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. Pros. Gayanilo was conferred the Senator Lorenzo Tañada Award as Outstanding Public Prosecutor of the Philippines while Pros. Amular was the recipient of Sen. Ambrosio Padilla Award as Outstanding Public Prosecutor. Both of them were appointed judges.

Resurrection Borra, an alumnus of the College of Law (class '60), is now a Commissioner of the Commission on Elections.

Mario Guariña III (class '67) is a Justice of the Court of Appeals.

Raymundo Julio Olaguer, also an alumnus of the College of Law (class '89) of the Office of the Ombudsman is one of the prosecutors assigned in the 1st Division of the Sandiganbayan to prosecute former President Joseph Estrada.

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) a)Jurisprudence- The Philippines 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; g) Local Autonomy and Local Government; h) Environmental and Natural Resources Vol. 6; I) Labor and Social Legislation Vol. 7; 2) Updated Collection of Books including SCRA (Supreme Court Report 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 Alumni cards and after payment of a reasonable fee.

Further, two alumni of the College of Law also received awards, Judge Mario Guariña III (class ’67), RTC, Manila, was awarded the National Judicial Excellence Award while Judge Edgar Garvilles (class '66), RTC Bacolod, received the Judicial Excellence award for Western Visayas. Cynnette Lovelyn Mirasol placed third in the National Oratorical Contest. She was awarded during the special en banc session of the Supreme Court on June 26, 2001 by Chief Justice Hilario Davide.

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

Since the year 2000 and every year thereafter, Bar operations are done in Manila to give moral support to the USA 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 Sundays of the Bar Examination.

According to the Statistical Data furnished by the Supreme Court, the University of San Agustin College of Law has the highest passing percentage in the 2002 Bar Examination among all law schools in the City of Iloilo and Panay. In fact, the passing percentage of the USA College of Law based on current year's graduates (batch 2000-2001) is 45.45% as compared to the national passing percentage which is only 32.89%. It is only the USA College of Law that has a passing percentage higher than the national passing percentage among law schools in Panay. Further, the statistics shows that the University of San Agustin College of Law has a higher passing percentage compared to other Law Schools in Manila.

The increase in the passing percentage in the Bar Examination can be attributed to the strict implementation of the “Quality Admission, Quality Retention Policy” of the College of Law.

The USA College of Law Debating Team won 1st place in the 1st Invitational Visayas-wide AIDS Debate Series sponsored by the AIDS Council for Negros Occidental Welfare which was held on August 7-8, 2002 at the Bacolod Convention Plaza Hotel. The USA College of Law Debating Team bested the other debating teams from Siliman University, University of Negros Occidental- Recoletos and Southwestern University. It is only the USA College of Law Debating Team which was invited among the five (5) law schools in Panay by the sponsor.

The Debating Team members were Elijo Sharon Herrera, Cynette Lovelyn Mirasol, Giselle Durana and Edison Sicad. Ms. Elijo Sharon Herrera was adjudged as the Best Debater and Speaker.

Atty Marie Yvette Dedel-Go and Atty Ernesto Ladrido III, faculty members of the College of law, were the coaches.

The University of San Agustin Law Alumni Association (USLAA) was reorganized on August 24, 2002. Alumni from Manila, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan and Antique attended the reorganizational meeting and election of officers. The following are the current officers of the USALAAI.

University of San Agustin Law Alumni Association Officers

President :
Atty. George Que
Vice-President :
Judge Merlin Deloria
Secretary :
Atty. Jauna Judita Panigbatan-Navarette
Asst. Sec. :
Atty. Erna Elizan
Treasurer :
Atty. Milagros Tan
Asst. Treas :
Judge Dianela Ladrido
Auditor :
Atty. Shiela Villa
Business Mgr :
Atty. Claro Aligaen
P.R.O :
Atty. Evelyn Jiz


Board of Directors

Mayor Gerardo Flores
Prosecutor Irene S. Panigbatan
Atty. Teodulfo Castro
Atty. Rosalino Tormon
Atty. Orlanda Lumawag
Mayor Lorenzo Cabardo
Atty. Mae Laserna

The reorganization of the USALAA was made possible through the joint efforts of Judge Merlin Deloria, Alumni Coordinator of the College of Law, the College of Law, Officers and Members of the Sigma Alpha Lex and the Portia Club.

The first project of the USALAA is to publish a Directory of Alumni of the College of Law.

In preparation for the administration of the Comprehensive Examination in February 2004, the College of Law conducted a mock Bar Examination during the three Sundays of February 2003 and the first Sunday of March 2003. The Mock Bar Examination is akin to the Bar Examination. Its purpose are two-fold: 1)
To adequately prepare students for the Bar examination and 2) at the same time to provide them with the opportunity to assess themselves as to their preparedness to take the Bar.

In connection with the Centennial Celebration of our Alma Mater in 2004, all alumni of the College of Law are invited to come home to the University. The College of Law will sponsor symposia, lectures and other activities starting July 2003.


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