Suspend rule on Bar exams, SC told

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers have asked the Supreme Court to temporarily suspend its five-strike rule for the next two years and give chance to previous, disqualified examinees to take Bar examinations one more time following the SC's adoption of multiple-choice-questions exam next year.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao Rep. Maximo Rodriguez Jr. filed Resolution No. 649 urging the High Court to provisionally put to halt its June 8, 2004, ruling.

They said that the five-strike rule will be "back in full effect" after the disqualified examinees were given a chance to take Bar examinations, which traditionally consist of essay questions on the eight Bar subjects - Political Law, Remedial Law, Taxation, Criminal Law, Civil Law, Mercantile Law, Labor Law, and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises.

"To give previous examinees who did not make it another chance, and to take advantage of the multiple choice questions, it is necessary to temporarily suspend the five-strike rule mandated by Bar Matter No. 1161, dated June 8, 2004," they said in their filed resolution dated Nov. 17.

Bar Matter No. 1161 provides that a candidate will be disqualified to take the exams after failing in three examinations, provided, that she or he may take a fourth and fifth examination if he successfully complete one year refresher course for each examination.

Under the resolution, those who have already failed in five or more Bar examinations shall be allowed to take only one more bar examination after completing one-year refresher course.

The 2011 Bar Examinations Committee earlier announced that that 60 percent of the next year's Bar examination will be multiple choice questions (MCQ), while only 40 percent will be essay.

The brother lawmakers welcomed the High Court's new reform in the Bar examinations, citing that there may be instances that even if the examinee knows the answer to the question, he would receive a low grade because the examiner cannot read his handwriting.

"These multiple choice questions would also eliminate the disadvantage that examinees with poor handwriting and limited English communication skills which lessen their chances of passing the Bar exams," they said.

"Due to the number of examination booklets that each examiner has to correct, it cannot be denied that the handwriting of the examinee would play a part in the correction of the booklets," they added.

Associate Justice Roberto Abad, chairman of the 2011 Bar Examinations Committee, earlier said the two-step Bar Examinations will be able to assess the examinees' knowledge on law provisions, comprehension, and analysis.

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