Bzzzzz: Requests to cancel, delay bar exams rejected. Jan. 4 SC ruling silent on problems of examinees, Cebu hosts. But 'sites are ready.'

·4 min read

AT A GLANCE: 1. Supreme Court already decided the rejection, along with the setting of dates of the exams, the shortened period and the revised coverage. The resolution and the press announcements Tuesday, January 4, just didn't take up the issue raised in requests from Cebu, other places.

2. Apparently, the SC is convinced that problems about the exam sites are already solved or will be solved before January 23 and 25.


The Supreme Court en banc resolution declaring "go" for the bar examinations -- promulgated and announced Tuesday, January 4 -- didn't say anything about the request of Cebu where the exams will also be held on January 23, a Sunday, and 25, a Tuesday. The three local hosts are University of San Carlos, University of Cebu and University of San Jose-Recoletos, all in Cebu City.

Cebu requested for a few weeks' deferment while some other exam sites in the country wanted postponement or cancellation, citing the pandemic and the super-typhoon.

Also silent about the requests were the announcements from the SC, as well as the Cebu deans and Cebu City chapter of IBP or Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which earlier sought deferment, at least until the examinees and the local sites would be ready, following the damage and hardship inflicted by Odette. The IBP officials and the deans just posted the SC resolution and the latest bar bulletin implementing the new schedule and the revised coverage.

‘KEEP IN CONFIDENCE.’ The IBP leaders and the deans talked with SC Associate Justice and bar exams chairman Marvic M.V.F. Leonen the day before the SC ruling (Saturday, January 3) about their concerns regarding the exams. And they were reportedly asked by the AJ that what they discussed "be kept in confidence." Either the SC would later make the announcement or just not publicly discuss it anymore.

EXAM SITES ARE 'READY.' The Law Dean's Group and Cebu City IBP's Big Brother project, through president Michele Mendez-Palmares, told Bzzzzz Wednesday, January 5, "Exam sites are ready. The only concern is the connectivity to the telcos and Veco."

Earlier, the deans and Cebu City IBP used the argument that the sites were in need of repairs because of the damage from Odette and their facilities were deficient, particularly on electricity, communication and water. That must have been solved, or would be, as the Supreme Court still went ahead with the January 23-25 schedule.

Queenie S. Bronce, Veco's chief publicist, confirmed to Bzzzzz Wednesday that USC main and Talamban, as well as UC Banilad are "already re-energized." No word yet about USJ-R, the third exam site, and UC main.

NEED FOR LAWYERS. The local legal community could only request. The highest court decides. In its resolution, the SC cited "demand for new lawyers" and the pandemic for its decision (1) to push through with the exams -- the tests were already cancelled twice, in 2020 and 2021 -- and (2) to revise and shorten the period, from four Sundays in past examinations to the two days this January, and compress the subjects.

A number of lawyers agree with the SC's recognition of a "demand for lawyers," although no numbers from any study are being presented to support it. Often, one hears the complaint about there being "too many lawyers." Former IBP Cebu City Regal Oliva differed, saying "we have not seen new lawyers for the last two years and the justice system needs more people working for it." Oliva, Atty. Palmares's immediate predecessor at Cebu City IBP, said the postponement of the bar "has dragged too long."

HARDER, OR EASIER, ON EXAMINEES. It could be difficult on the examinees as the system is new and the subjects are compressed, which may be compounded by difficulties brought by the twin crises of pandemic and typhoon.

On the other hand, the questions might be easier and the passing percentage higher "because of the peculiar crisis circumstances." The system, the SC cautioned in its resolution, is "pro hoc vice" or 'for this occasion" or "for this event," meaning the structure and rules are for the 2022 exams only.

"We must do what needs to be done," Atty. Oliva said, "the bar exams must continue."


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