By Joshua Ryan Salaveria
A Silliman University sophomore law student was awarded Best Speaker and Best Debater in this year’s Grand Law Debate against De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila held at the Luce Auditorium last Feb. 25.
SU’s Gesta Gamo took home two of the three awards while DLSU’s Chantal Chua was named Best Rebuttal Speaker.
This year’s Grand Law Debate marked the first participation of the DLSU College of Law.
Atty. Rosario Olivas-Gallo, vicedean of DLSU Law, said she found the audience to be intelligent.
“I am so impressed with the people here who are actually embroidered in debating. They are here because they are intellectually stimulated,” said Olivas-Gallo.
The debate focused on the topic, “Resolved: That the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Memorandum Order (MO) 20-2013 be declared unconstitutional for violating tax exemption rights of educational institutions.” The BIR MO seeks to increase the monitoring of non-stock, nonprofit educational institutions so that income from non-educational activities will be subjected to appropriate taxes.
As per tradition, SU took the affirmative position declaring that the revenue memorandum order (RMO) would only add unnecessary requirements to schools and that only Congress has the power to grant and revoke tax exemptions.
Affirmative beneficiality speaker, Maria Carmela Caupayan, said: “The RMO provides a new burden and inconvenience to . . . educational institutions.”
On the other hand, DLSU argued against the unconstitutionality of the RMO pointing out that the BIR is only ensuring that taxes are collected efficiently and that the privilege of tax exemptions would not be abused as was the case of the “Napoles NGOs.”
In her rebuttal speech, Chantal Chua said the “constitutional grant is not unconditional as the exemption is still subject to conditions.”
The Grand Law Debate is an annual non-contest debate organized by the SU Law as part of their Law Week celebration. They invite other law schools from all over the Philippines to debate on relevant, legal and often controversial topics.
The SU team was composed of Jello Cubelo (necessity speaker), Maria Carmela Caupayan (beneficialityspeaker), Gesta Riva Gamo (practicability speaker), Abel Montejo (rebuttal speaker) and Yasmeen Juniad(team manager).
DLSU’s team included Rene Pilapil Jr. (necessity speaker), Karla Rose Gutierrez (beneficiality speaker), Osh Haulo (practicability speaker), Chantal Chua (rebuttal speaker) and Ma. Regine Joyce Agdon (team manager).