University of St. La Salle (USLS) Bacolod City bagged two awards while Silliman University (SU) won one during the Grand Law Debate 2018 last Feb. 12 at Luce Auditorium.
Sophomore USLS law student Daniel Victor Zayco bagged both the “Best Debater” and “Best Speaker” awards in the annual friendly debate.
“Best Rebuttal Speaker” was senior SU law student Joed Marice V. Zamora.
By tradition, SU took the affirmative side, while USLS took the negative side on the proposition, “RESOLVED: That omissions in the SALN should not be considered an Impeachable Offense.”
As a negative necessity speaker, Zayco argued that consideration of the omission of SALN as an impeachable offense will monitor and supervise public officials in case of corruption.
“Safeguards must be put in place to ensure the officials do not raid the coffers of government and fill their pockets with the money of the people. And what is a safeguard that would prevent this? The filing of statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) under oath as mandated by the constitution,” he said.
SALN refers to a public document that enlists an individual’s assets and liabilities which make up their net worth. According to Section 17 Article 11 of the Philippine Constitution, every public official and employee in the Philippines should “submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth.”
On the affirmative bench, SU declared that omissions in the SALN do not equate to the grounds for impeachment as mandated in Section 2 Article 11 of the Philippine Constitution.
Affirmative necessity speaker Andrea Dawn Boycillo said, “Omissions in itself do not amount to great misconduct because the omission had not hindered the rendition of such public service for there is no direct relation or connection between the two.”
She said that omissions in the SALN are just negligence on the act of reporting SALN and not an act of falsifying of data in the SALN which is already a punishable crime.
On the other hand, USLS argued that omissions in the SALN are done with “deliberate intent and malicious bad faith to not follow what is mandated in the constitution (Section 17 Article 11)” and that itself is ground for impeachment.
“Any office who fails to follow this constitutional mandate of filing his SALN is culpably violative of the constitution and has betrayed public trust […] Because the constitution does not qualify whether you can include or exclude certain properties, it is assumed through statutory construction that you must file your SALN in full and complete detail,” concludes Zayco.
Affirmative-beneficiality speaker Bobby E. Siglos said considering omissions in the SALN as an impeachable offense would result to numbers of impeachments and this would cause a “legislative lag” in the Senate because it would be focused in addressing such impeachments rather than “passing societally relevant laws.”
USLS Bacolod, however, argued that omissions in the SALN and the act of negligence cripple the transparency of these public officials towards the public and will lose the public’s “faith and confidence towards the government”.
“Omitting something in your SALN; regardless of amount, regardless of the intention, gives the impression to the public that you have something they ought not know or they don’t deserve to know […] You [a public official] are not allowed to hide anything from the public especially with the public interest at stake,” said negative beneficiality speaker, Janica Pandanduyan.
The Grand Law Debate is an annual non-contest friendly debate between SU Law and another law school in the Philippines as part of SU Law Week Celebration.
The SU team was composed of Andrea Dawn Boycillo (necessity speaker), Bobby Diglos (beneficiality speaker), Josef James Gara (practicability speaker), Joed Marice Zamora (rebuttal speaker) and James Corro (team manager).
USLS’ team included Daniel Victor Zayco (necessity speaker), Janica Pananduyan (beneficiality speaker), Sharewin Sapian (practicability speaker), and Mika Tajima (rebuttal speaker).