Chief Justice Gesmundo thumbs down idea to abolish Bar exams

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Chief Justice Gesmundo thumbs down idea to abolish Bar exams
Aspiring lawyers waiting outside the Supreme Court compound for the results of the 2017 bar exams on Thursday, April 26, 2018.
Philstar.com / Erwin Cagadas

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo has rejected the idea to abolish the conduct of Bar exams for aspiring lawyers of the country.

This was after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III floated the abolition of professional licensure exams, including Bar exams, on Wednesday. He argued that those who seek to enter these professions have already taken enough tests as students.

The chief justice said he respects Bello’s opinion but he insisted that lawyers of the country should first pass the Bar exams as the profession is vested with public interest.

“[W]e should see to it that only those who are fit and qualified to join the ranks of legal profession meet the standards required of them,” he told reporters in a chance interview on Thursday.

“Aside from the tradition, it is important that we make sure that those who join the legal profession are competent, that they can, you know, perform their duties as lawyers, not only to the court but also to their clients and to society as a whole,” he added.

Bello on Wednesday questioned whether Bar exams can be something be done away with. He noted that before applying for the Bar, a student has to study four years pre-law and four years in law school under “rigorous scrutiny.”

But Gesmundo noted that the Rules of Court “provides the mandatory taking of Bar exams as well as its coverage so far as long as it is in the rules of court we have to comply with it.”

Rule 138 lists down requirements of admission to the Bar and who may practice law.

“I don’t see the need to abolish the Bar exam. We must continue having the Bar exam,” the chief justice also said.

Bar examinations are traditionally held during the four Sundays of November, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced its suspension in 2020. The next Bar exams will be held in November 2021, digitally, in several testing sites in the country.

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen sits as the 2020-21 Bar examinations chairperson.





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