Sean James Borja, who was the valedictorian of the Ateneo Law School Class of 2018, took the top spot with a rating of 89.3060 percent, said SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo.
1,800 hurdle 2018 Bar
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - May 4, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A graduate of Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) topped the 2018 Bar examination, the results released yesterday by the Supreme Court (SC) showed.

Sean James Borja, who was the valedictorian of the Ateneo Law School Class of 2018, took the top spot with a rating of 89.3060 percent, said SC Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo. 

“Dedication lang, hard work… Stick to your goals… Don’t let your insecurities get the best of you,” Borja told future Bar examinees in a phone interview. 

Out of 8,155 examinees, only 1,800  passed.

Aside from Borja, two other examinees from the Ateneo placed in the top 10, namely fourth placer Daniel John Fordan with a rating of 85.4430 percent and fifth placer Katrina Monica Gaw with 85.4210 percent.

University of the Philippines (UP) graduates in the top 10 are sixth placer Nadaine Tongco with a rating of 85.0320 percent and seventh placer Patricia Sevilla with a rating of 84.8590 percent. 

Kathrine Ting, the first De La Salle University (DLSU) Manila graduate who entered the top 10, landed in eighth place with a rating of 84.8570 percent.

DLSU-Manila College of Law opened in 2009.

Four University of San Carlos (Cebu City) students completed the top 10: second placer Marcley Augustus Natu-el with a ranking of 87.5300 percent; third placer Mark Lawrence Badayos with 85.8420 percent; ninth placer Jebb Lynus Cane with 84.8050 percent and 10th placer Alen Joel Pita with a ranking of 84.6930 percent. 

Only 22.07 percent or 1,800 out of the 8,155 examinees passed the 2018 Bar examination, the SC said.

Del Castillo, who chaired the 2018 Bar exam, noted that the percentage of passers is lower than the 25.5 percent (1,724 of 6,748) examinees who passed the 2017 Bar exam. 

There had been Bar exams with lower passing rates. In 2013, there were 5,343 who took the exam but only 949 passed, or 17.76 percent. 

Del Castillo said there were originally 8,701 who applied to take the Bar last year but only 8,155 finished taking the examination that consisted of eight subjects.

“The highest grade awarded in this exam was 98 percent in Legal Ethics. The largest number of passers (was) in Legal Ethics (where) out of 8,155 examinees 5,436 passed (66.6585 percent). The subject that had the least number of passers is Taxation with only 18.7837 percent or 1,532 examinees,” Del Castillo added.  

Among those who passed is Vincent Joshua Bohol, the son of detained Sen. Leila de Lima.

“A most glorious day for me and our family,” De Lima said in a handwritten note issued from her detention cell at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.

The senator’s youngest son graduated from San Beda College School of Law in Alabang in June 2018 but the Muntinlupa regional trial court that was hearing her drug case did not allow her to attend the graduation.

Another passer is certified public accountant Ivan Yannick Bagayao who, while working as a professor at the University of Santo Tomas, was studying law.

Bagayao is running for councilor in Tabuk City, Kalinga.

“I just want to go to a chapel and thank God, to give glory. Since the election campaign is still going on, I will go home tomorrow to continue with the campaign. Hopefully, with God’s blessing, hopefully I would win a seat in the Sanggunian,” said the 29-year-old Bagayao.

The examiners were lawyers Carlo Cruz (Political and Public International Law), Hans Leo Cacdac (Labor Law and Social Legislation); Ma. Ngina Teresa Gonzaga (Civil Law) and Carlos Baniqued (Taxation).

Former dean of Ateneo Law School Cesar Villanueva was the examiner in Mercantile Law while retired Court of Appeals Justice Edgardo Cruz was the examiner in Criminal Law.

The other examiners were lawyers Tranquil Salvador III (Remedial Law) and Regina Geraldez (Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises).

The oath taking of the new lawyers is scheduled at 2 p.m. on June 13 at the Philippine International Convention Center, while the signing of the Roll of Attorneys will start the following day, June 14.

‘Join gov’t service’

President Duterte sent his congratulations yesterday to the new lawyers, urging them to join the government service.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the youth and idealism of the Bar passers make them qualified and fit to join the government.

“We hope that many of our country’s new lawyers consider pursuing a career in the government and help build a progressive and peaceful nation that will provide a comfortable life for all,” he said.

“Their youth, idealism, academic competence and personal integrity are welcome under the present administration and should be in succeeding administrations as well,” added Panelo, who is also chief presidential legal adviser.

Panelo told the new lawyers that learning the law is a never-ending process. 

“Its practice is faced with endless challenges and a constant wrestling with conscience as we ought to remove our partisanship, personal feelings and biases as well as prejudices when a question of law or a case subject of litigation is thrown in our lap for the application of the letter and spirit of the law,” he said.

 “As they prepare to take their oaths and sign in the Roll of Attorneys, we urge them to inculcate in their minds that integrity is the highest in the hierarchy of virtues in the legal profession,” Panelo said.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Solicitor General yesterday invited this year’s Bar passers to join the OSG.

“As the biggest and best law firm in the country, the OSG is the finest training ground for members of the legal profession. Since 2016, Bar top-notchers joined the OSG in droves. We encourage all Bar passers to heed the call of public service and join the OSG in its pursuit of social justice as the defender of the republic and tribune of the people,” the OSG added.

The 2018 Bar examinations, the 117th held in the country, registered the highest number of examinees with 8,158. 

The 8,158 examinees took the Political Law, International Law, Labor Law and Social Legislation exams on Nov. 4 last year.

The number was reduced by two on Nov. 11 and 18, when the Civil Law and Taxation Law exams and Mercantile Law and Criminal Law exams were administered, respectively.

Another examinee dropped out on the last Sunday, when the Remedial Law and Legal and Judicial Ethics and Practical Exercises exams were given. 

From the SC front yard, Del Castillo announced the passing percentage. Afterward, an LED wall showed the list of successful examinees. 

 The list of new lawyers is posted on the SC website as well as its designated mirror sites. – Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez

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