Project Results Summarized

Capacity building for Legal and Social Advancement in the Philippines or “CALESA”, a Capacity Building Erasmus+ project, initiated its activities on 14th Jan 2020 after putting together a consortium of 9 (nine) renowned universities and institutions from Europe and the Philippines in the intent of modernizing the curricular offerings of several Filipino Higher Education Institutions, so as to improve research skills and bring them closer to EU values of dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights enshrined in article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union.

The main goals of the project were, then, to (1) have the 4 Filipino HEI institutions that integrated the consortium update/create, accredit and offer new subjects (aligned with the Bologna principles and in thematic areas that were both key to their legal modernization/research skills improvement and connected to EU values) and and to (2) train teachers, students, administrative staff and non-HEI personnel so that the sustainability of those changes was ensured.

The project, whose activities were initially planned to have ended in 2023, suffered a major setback due to the covid-19 pandemic, which affected and hindered its implementation all through 2021 and mid-2022, because of the restrictions imposed by all the partner countries. Mobility and on-site teaching activities were, then, suspended for a long time and, even though an extension was granted until Jan/2024, most of the teaching events had to be concentrated in a year, which was challenging.

Nonetheless, the project was able to achieve the expected results, exceeding the initial proposed outcomes in several indicators. Below, we now present a summarized and graphical representation of those results:

1. Curricular Modernization: creation and updating of subjects

The consortium was able to introduce 62 new/updated subjects – 178 units (or 356 ECTS) – to the curricula of the Juris Doctor and Masters of Law programmes offered by the 4 Filipino HEIs. Out of the 62, 40 were offered to the public and 1756 have enrolled in them since their initial offer.

Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) incorporated 17 new elective subjects to its JD and LLM programs, distributed across the International Corporate and Business Law (2 subjects), the International Human Rights (3 subjects), the Dispute Resolution (5 subjects), and the Health Governance (7 subjects) tracks.

The University of the Philippines (UP) incorporated 14 elective subjects into its JD program, on its Human Rights (9 subjects) and Legal Modernization/Commercial Law (5 subjects) tracks.

The University of San Agustin (USA) updated 20 existing subjects (58 units), 2 LEB-mandatory subjects (2 units) and introduced 3 new core subjects (6 units) into its JD program, integrating 66 units to its curriculum.

Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU) introduced six new subjects, totaling 19 units, into its JD program and fulfilled its commitment entirely, modernizing 12% of its curriculum.

Compared to the initial proposal, these were CALESA’s results:

2. Capacity Building

Throughout the 4 years of its implementation, CALESA was supposed to hold 25 capacity building events, 10 out which dedicated to gender-related issues. Not only did the project’s team implemented all the events that had been initially proposed, but they also held 6 additional capacity building seminars to maximize the opportunities created within the project and expand its reach and organized 2 International Conferences for the purposes of strengthening the educational, cultural, linguistic and professional ties between the countries of the partnership, especially those between Spain and the Philippines.

In total, about 1660 students participated in the events, 340 academic staff members from the Filipino institutions received training in several legal matters (chosen in accordance with the curricular adaptations made by each PH partner), 80 members of their administrative staff improved their skills and 527 non-HEI individuals benefited from the training sessions. See the graph below comparing the expected vs achieved results.

The impact of the project among key stakeholders, such as the Filipino Supreme Court, its Executive and Legislative branches and the Filipino Legal Education Board (Ministry level) was high and has opened doors for the discussion of a new project with the aim of expanding CALESA’s goals and results to a national level.

3. Legal Teaching Materials, Contextual Studies, Translation and Publication of Legal Texts

Regarding teaching, training, and research outputs, the CALESA project has also exceeded its initial expectations.

In total, 4 legal texts have been translated from Spanish into English and 3 of them have been published by Filipino partners.  

Also, one book on Legal teaching innovations has been translated from Portuguese into English as supporting material for seminar 2.2, and one translation has been made by the AdZU on the Safe Space Act, from English to Chavacano, to assist their legal student and teaching body with the implementation of their Legal Clinic activities in linguistically vulnerable communities. 

Finally, more than 200 teaching materials have been produced and made available to the PH legal community as a result of the capacity-building events.

4. Spin-off Effects

As an unanticipated consequence of the project, several initiatives and events have taken place such as:

1) Strengthening of the ties between UMA and UP – a delegation from the University of the Philippines, led by its Rector, Danilo Concepción, visited the University of Malaga in October 2021 to attend the Seminar: “UP College of Law Academic Visit on the Bologna Process, Networking, And Quincentennial
Celebrations”. The delegation was formed by 100 professors from the University of the Philippines, being one of the largest delegations that has left the University in its history.
A few years after this first visit, the University of Malaga opened a permanent office at the University of the Philippines and the University of the Philippines opened a permanent office at the University of Malaga to intensify the implementation of joint academic projects/actions, encourage student and staff mobility flows and improve future synergies between both institutions.

2) Links between European and Filipino Judiciary Branch – The Seminar held at the University Nova de Lisboa was attended by a delegation of 20 members of the Supreme Court of the Philippines and PHILJA, headed by its President and Chancellor respectively. The delegation then traveled to Malaga where they attended a seminar on the modernization of university teaching techniques and the digitalization of Justice, which is being organized on an ad hoc basis. In January 2024 they visited UMA again and were able to visit the Supreme Court of Spain, thus restoring a link that had been lost for five decades.

Also, it was reported that due to the atmosphere and the positive synergies the project developed during its implementation, especially in terms of collaborative work between Europe and the Philippines, the Filipino Supreme Court decided to invest more than a million euros in a capacity-building agreement with the Hague Academy. The program on demand will focus on intensive professional training on Public and Private international law as part of the Supreme Court’s Strategic Plan for Judicial Innovations.

3) Cultural ties between Spain and the Philippines – As a result of the Project, an International Conference on Spanish-Philippine Literature was held in Malaga, 2-3/11/2023. The conference was attended by leading experts from the Philippines, Europe, North America, and Mexico, with a total of 27 speakers and 140 registered participants. On the occasion of the Conference, the Ambassador of the Philippines in Spain visited the University of Malaga and met with the members of the team. It is also noteworthy that the closing seminar of the project in Malaga was attended by 80 Filipino professors whose travel expenses were paid by their own sources.

4) Links with the PH House of Representatives and Presidential Palace – Members of the CALESA project have also been invited to give seminars at the House of Representatives and at the Main Palace of the Philippines, on the occasion of the seminar on the international fight against terrorism, which were attended by stakeholders who not only are responsible for the legal modernization of the country, but for its governmental implementation.

5) Protection of Filipino native language – As a result of the project, especially of the connections made after the implementation of its seminar on Multilingualism, procedures to declare the Creole language of Zamboanga as an endangered heritage at UNESCO have been initiated through the Spanish Embassy in Manila.

6) Project funded by the Spanish Agency for Cooperation – The team of Spanish professors who participated in the implementation of the CALESA project has been awarded a grant by the Spanish Agency for Cooperation to implement a Justice project with the Philippines which will continue to expand on its results and which was called CALESA DIGITAL as it focuses on the digital development of law in the Philippines. It is important to mention that the awarding of the grant took into account the results and activities already implemented/achieved by the CALESA project.