The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Zamboanga del Norte Chapter conducted a symposium and inter-school competitions in celebration of the National Law Week with the theme “Reinventing the Federal Framework for the Philippines: A Fresher Perspective on Decentralization and Regional Development.” The two-day event, held on September 17 and 18, kicked off with a motorcade around Dipolog City, attended by lawyers and law students.

IBP ZN Chapter President Kenneth Lim explained that the IBP is leading the way in raising awareness and educating the public about charter change and federalism. The symposium is an avenue for a healthy public discussion on the pros and cons of federalism so that the people can make an informed decision. “Any constitutional amendment should not be taken lightly and should be thoroughly discussed and debated upon. At the end of the day, we all have the best interest of our country at heart,” Lim stressed.

Attorney Charles Rasonable, IBP Western Mindanao Region Governor, shared his insights on the draft federal constitution submitted by the Consultative Committee led by Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Rasonable noted that “it is not the system that matters but the people who run the system.”

The series of school competitions include an essay writing contest open to senior high school students, extemporaneous speaking contest for law students, and the Lantugi Debate Cup for senior high and law schools, which is the first in the history of Zamboanga del Norte.

For the extemporaneous speaking contest, Bryne Angelo Brillantes, Doreena Pauline Aranal, and Claudette Anne Sayson of the Andres Bonifacio College (ABC) School of Law and Franklin Villacastin, Mary Ann Elumbaring, and Miles Villanueva of Jose Rizal Memorial State University (JRMSU) College of Law took turns in delivering their speech before more than 200 inside Atrium Hall at Top Plaza Hotel. The randomly chosen topics focused on federalism and its impact, how federalism can curb corruption, regional development, fiscal autonomy. Judge Kenneth Rosal, Attorneys Ivan Patrick Ang, and Kwin Loch Febra served as panel judges.

In the Inter-Senior High School Debate Cup, Zamboanga del Norte National High School (ZNNHS) faced-off with DMC College Foundation (DMC) in the final round after they bested various Dipolog schools in the elimination rounds held last September 8. Taking the affirmative side that federalism is necessary, beneficial and practicable for the economic growth in Mindanao were Allen Cloyd Malayo, John Andre Ruano, and Joshua Jay Hamoy from DMC. Arguing its non-necessity, non-beneficiality, and non-practicability were Clare Jay Sabijon, Richelle Mae Tabigne, and Kirt Noe Estrella from ZNNHS.

For the inaugural Inter-Law School Debate Cup, students from JRMSU College of Law—Moses Keith Gador, Evince Earl Columnas, and Patrick Jalapadan—argued on the affirmative side that federalism empowers the region, improves the administration of justice, and brings peace to Mindanao. Taking the opposing side were students from ABC School of Law—Sol Sayre, Princess Decierdo, and Rosemarie Baliquig. The panel of judges for the debate was composed of Attorney January Santiago, Prosecutor Rommel Jacinto, and Judge Jose Rene Dondoyano as chairman.

The winners of the competitions are:

Essay Writing Contest

Champion: Richelle Mae Tabigne (ZNNHS)
1st Runner-Up: Ma. Whitney Claire Ceprado (ZNNHS)
2nd Runner Up: Hellen Marie Joy Rubillos (SMA)

Extemporaneous Speaking Contest

Champion: Claudette Anne Sayson (ABC Law)
1st Runner-up: Franklin Villacastin (JRMSU Law)
2nd Runner-up: Mary Ann Elumbaring (JRMSU Law)

Inter-Senior High School Debate

Champion: ZNNHS Debate Team
Best Speaker: Richelle Mae Tabigne (ZNNHS)
Best Interpellator: John Andre Ruano (DMC)

Inter-Law School Debate

Champion: JRMSU Law Debate Team
Best Speaker: Evince Earl Columnas (JRMSU Law)
Best Interpellator: Evince Earl Columnas (JRMSU Law)

IBP ZN Vice President Uldarico “Ricky” Mejorada II closed the event with a positive note, hinting that the IBP endeavors to hold similar competitions in the near future.

The event was organized by Attys. Fevie Anne Gador, Patrice Wendell Tan, and Mark Jasper Cielo, who also served as moderator. Judge Chad Martin Paler served as an adviser. The event was sponsored by Mayor Darel Dexter Uy as platinum sponsor; Cong. Frederick Seth Jalosjos, Mr. Romeo Jalosjos, Dean Ma. Cheryl Angela Barbaso-Pacatang, Neo Global Solutions, Inc., BuiltSafe Hardware, Happytelle Inc., and as gold sponsors; Attys. Bryan Lim and Diana Charlette Concha as silver sponsors; and Attys. January Faith Santiago, Uldarico Mejorada II, and Michael Alan Ranillo as bronze sponsors.