October 2, 2023

Cordillera Career Development College law students will be taken under the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Benguet, as both institutions signed a memorandum of understanding for a legal education externship on Dec. 21.

The partnership was signed between NCIP-Benguet Director Harriet Abyadang and NCIP-Benguet lawyer Myra Kalang-ad, and CCDC President Sherry Junette Tagle, College of Law Dean Alexis Agmata, and retiredjudge Adolf Malingan of CCDC at the latter’s Admiral Farm Park in La Trinidad.

In the MOU, NCIP-Benguet will initially engage in its services and programs 12 law student practitioners of the CCDC College of Law under the school’s Clinical Legal Education Program.

The law student practitioners will render data gathering and research of relevant laws and jurisprudence in relation to the cases referred by the NCIP and assist in public interest advocacies for policy formulation and implementation.

The six-month program is expected to start by January 2022 to June, subject to renewal as determined by both parties.

Malingan, who is the managing director of CCDC’s Legal Aid Clinic, said the partnership aims to enhance learning opportunities of law students for them to express their sense of social responsibility anchored in the administration of justice.

He added the program will also prepare students for the practice of law while helping ensure access to justice of the indigenous people of Benguet.

More law student practitioners are expected to be engaged soon under the MOU upon evaluation of the CCDC and NCIP-Benguet.

Abyadang hoped the externship will facilitate the faster and wider administration of services of their office, especially in the legal department.

“Although we are the primary agency to serve the IPs, we are not the sole agency that’s why we also work with other agencies including the academe,” Abyadang said.

Tagle, for her part, said the MOU will hopefully pave way to other partnership arrangements between the only law school in Benguet and NCIP, as well as wider engagements with the communities CCDC caters to.

The CLEP externship between the law school and the NCIP is the first in Benguet following the issuance of A.M. No. 19-03-24-SC or Revised Law Student Practice Rule by the Supreme Court in 2019 which required all law schools to institutionalize CLEP. – Ofelia C. Empian