IT WAS a close fight—or at least, it was for the judges.
On December 21, 2013, a team from the Ateneo Law School—comprised of Kristine Borja (1E), Cecille Danica Gotamco (2C), Samantha Monzon (2C), Le Iris Lucido (4C), and Laurence Millan (1E)—tied with a team from the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Law to claim its first-ever championship for the South East Asian Regional Rounds of the International Environmental Moot Court Competition (IEMCC), more known as the Stetson moot.
Held annually in Stetson University in Tampa Bay, Florida, the Stetson moot is the most prestigious international environmental moot competition in the world. For this year’s competition, teams from Latin and North America, North and South India, West Africa, South East Asia, East Asia, and Ireland, in their respective regional rounds, argued on questions regarding the protection of sea turtles and the cultural rights of indigenous peoples.
Aside from the regional championship award, the Ateneo team also took home the award for Best Memorial and Best Speaker for the Final Round (Cecille Danica Gotamco). Another Ateneo team, comprised of Ma. Anna Margarita Bueno (4A), Angela Katrina Feria (2A), Mary Grace Hicban (1E), and Alyssa Sheena Tan (2A), also placed third overall (Second Runner-Up) in the competition, after facing its fellow Atenean team in the semi-finals.
The winning Ateneo team then proceeded to face UP in the championship round, presided over by environmental lawyer and advocate Dean Antonio La Viña, Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, and Prof. Jay Batongbacal, head of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea. The judges, after testing the soundness of both teams’ arguments as well as their advocacy skills, decided to declare a tie for the regional championship round.
Gotamco, commenting on the tie, said she felt frustrated. “But it just made me want to win in the international rounds even more,” she adds.
Aside from the Philippines, teams from Vietnam, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore flew to Manila to compete in the regional round, which was hosted by UP. The top two teams—Ateneo and UP—will fly to Florida in April to represent South East Asia in the international rounds.
The Ateneo teams were coached by Attys. Jane Laarni Pichay and Emmanuel Rey Cruz, respectively. All team members and coaches are part of the Ateneo Society of International Law (ASIL), which facilitated the runoffs and training rounds of the Ateneo-Stetson teams. Ateneo, through ASIL, has been continuously recognized for its participation in the Stetson moot, taking home the First Runner-Up trophy for the Stetson international rounds in 2007. Thereafter, it has consistently qualified for the international rounds, and bagged Best Memorial and Best Speaker awards for its superior environmental law advocacy.