The USC School of Law and Governance once again proved its dominance as one of the country’s best, this time in the most prestigious law dissertation writing competition in the Philippines.
Eunice S. Baliong and Trisha Aliya Dulanas, both recent graduates of the USC SOLG, have been recognized by the Foundation for Liberty and Prosperity (FLP) chaired by Former Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban on July 19, 2021. Chaired by Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, the board of judges used a rigid selection process to scrutinize the entries based on subject matter, amount of work and effort, quality of legal analysis, and writing quality.
“The work was conceived at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020. Cebu City was ground zero for the highest COVID cases in the country. And hundreds of our front liners and medical professionals were going to war with little to no resources. Many of them, we eventually lost. Many families were bereaved, and many children became fatherless,” Baliong answered when asked what inspired her to write her thesis.
Her work, which received the second prize was titled, “Liberty and Prosperity in the Age of the Pandemics: Establishing a Legal Framework to Harmonize the Trade-Health Provisions of the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations and the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.”
Eunice graduated summa cum laude with a degree in literature during her undergraduate studies at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan. She also played flute at the Xavier Philharmonica during her college days.
As for Dulanas, winning the FLP is a dream come true as she has always been interested in how it is possible to use legal research and analysis to propose novel solutions to modern day problems. Her thesis, “Thoughts on Thought: Balancing Prosperity with Liberty in Response to Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) Through a Definition of Freedom of Thought Under the Human Rights Instruments” was chosen as the third prize winner.
“In my paper, one proposal to respond to the problem was to reinterpret ‘freedom of thought’ as embodied in human rights instruments to include protection from the use of BCIs to surveil, manipulate, punish, and discriminate on the basis of thoughts. When I found out about the massive investments of governments and even social media giants in creating Brain Computer Interfaces for non-clinical uses, I knew I had to write about it,” Dulanas shared when asked why she chose her thesis topic.
Trisha was a recipient of a scholarship grant from a USC Law alumnus. “I must admit that the cash prize was another motivation for me. I know that there will be many brilliant law students from all over the country who will be joining and I know I am definitely not the smartest student. But I also know that if God is with me in making my paper and if He blesses the work of my hands, if He grants me favor in the eyes of the judges, I will be able to stand among the giants,” she added.
The winners will receive monetary awards as well as commemorative plaques from the FLP Committee and the Ayala Group in cooperation with the Philippine Association of Law Schools.
This win is yet another reminder of USC’s commitment to produce brilliant and morally-upright graduates who will give back to society in their own ways.
“As our adviser, Atty. Rashid Vedra Pandi, always reminded, ‘The promise of international law becomes evident, when one participates in shaping the law itself.’ As law students, we can’t fight the virus in the hospital wards, but we’ll fight it in the laws that were meant to protect you,” Baliong added.
Reported by Syrine Gladys Podadera