In recognition of the pluralistic nature of the Philippine Legal System, the University of Southeastern Philippines – School of Law conducted a two-part activity entitled Ang Sinugdan – an Indigenous Peoples ritual ceremony in the morning, and the Students’ orientation on university policies in the afternoon. This was done last August 17, 2019, at the College of Education Building, USeP Obrero Campus.
USeP acknowledges the diverse cultures in the country, especially in Mindanao. As the inaugural year of the USeP – School of Law, it also marks the beginning of the classes for the pioneering batch of Law Students. USeP invited balyans or spiritual leaders from the Mandaya and Ata ICCs of Davao Region to seek guidance and blessings for the Juris Doctor (Thesis) program, the faculty and staff, the students, including the facilities to Manama (Ata) and Magbabayo (Mandaya).
USeP aims to produce Juris Doctor (thesis) graduates who will eventually become champions for the rights of the marginalized, including the IP/ICCs, using conflict-sensitive and conflict-transformative processes. Through the Ritual, the students were provided with an avenue to witness first-hand the hybridity of the Philippine Legal System necessitating the integration of the customary laws of the IPs and the Sharia Law of the Muslims, with the mainstream western laws operating in the country.
The offering ceremony was attended by Lourdes Generalao, University President, Ma. Luisa Faunillan, VPAd, Shirley Villanueva, VPAA, Danilo Pacoy, VP RDE, and Joan Gervacio, the University Secretary. The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, who is mandated by the IPRA to look into issues concerning the IP, Regional Director for Region 11 Atty. Geroncio Aguio and former NCIP commissioner Norma Gonos also graced the event.
After taking part in the Ritual, the students proceeded to another interactive activity – the orientation session on university policies. Considering the students come from different walks of life, the afternoon program opened with a game to give the students the opportunity to get to know each other more. The highly adept faculty members of the School of Law were also introduced.
The faculty members who attended were Atty. Gil Garcia II, Atty. Rogelio Largo, Prosecutor Michael Robledo Jr., Atty. Patricia Nazareno, Prosecutor Marietta Cezar, Atty. Fidel Valdez Jr., Atty. Krisza Kintanar, Atty. JP Leo Asong, and Atty. Jesus Villardo III, the Dean of the School of Law.
Guided by USeP’s principles of Unity, Stewardship, Excellence, and Professionalism, this is just the beginning of the endless possibilities that USeP’s unique Law Program will create.