4 SC justices back proposal to regionalize Bar exams

Grace Melanie L. Lacamiento (The Freeman) - July 30, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines - For the first time, Cebu may host the first regionalized Bar examinations next year.

 This after at least four Supreme Court justices, particularly the Bar chair for next year, supported the proposed regionalization of the annual qualifying examination for lawyers by the deans of law schools throughout the country.

 Retired Court of Appeals Justice Portia Hormachuelos, the dean of the Gullas Law School of the University of the Visayas, told The FREEMAN that she received positive feedback from some SC justices on July 22.

 Hormachuelos submitted their book bound petition to SC Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno but the latter is abroad for her wellness leave.

The book report consisted of the recommendation of the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS) for Bar exam’s regionalization during its conference at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City from June 11 to 13.

She said next year’s Bar chair, whose identity was requested not to be disclosed, was sincere to help the Barristers, especially those from the provinces, improve their performance during the exams.

“He kept on asking how he can help the law graduates. I told him that the best way to help is through regionalization because those from the provinces are suffering much,” she said.

In its proposal, PALS suggested to hold the Bar examinations in Manila for Luzon takers, Cebu City for Visayas examiners, and Cagayan de Oro City for those in Mindanao.

 The next Bar chair, however, reportedly raised his concern on the difficulty of handling the venues.

But Hormachuelos suggested they can start with Cebu as the pilot project of the regionalization that will cater to Visayas and Mindanao Bar takers.

She said it would be easier and more comfortable for Barristers from Visayas and Mindanao to come to Cebu since their language is likely the same and most of them have relatives here. There are also review centers in Cebu.

“It can also boost the morale and confidence of Bar takers if they are closer to home,” she said.

 Bar candidates from provinces usually suffer economic constraints, culture shock, and emotional and psychological stress from being away from their families just to take the Bar exams in Manila, thus affecting their performance. 

In his research, UV law student and professor Marlon Magdadaro cited an increase of three percent of the passing rate of Bar takers from the provinces from the 11 percent in 2012 to 14 percent in 2013.

However, statistics also showed that Bar exam takers from Manila registered an increase from 25 percent in 2012 to 31 percent in 2013.

Hormachuelos is optimistic that she was able to convince the next Bar chair, saying law deans have always been pushing for the exam’s regionalization but no Bar chair has ever endorsed the idea to the Chief Justice.

“I supposed that the Bar chair might influence the decision of the Chief Justice. He agreed with me. He understood it well. As a Bar chair, he can push for it,” she said.

During her visit to SC, Hormachuelos talked to four other SC justices who turned out to be in favor of the idea.

Hormachuelos said once the proposal materializes, Bar exams would be held outside Manila for the first time, noting that Cebu is prepared to be the pilot project.

“Whatever you have in Manila we also have in Cebu,” she stated.

 Hormachuelos said the SC need not to worry on logistics since University of Cebu-College of Law Dean Baldomero Estenzo committed to host the pilot project for free.

 Hormachuelos said in terms of leakage, cheaters during the Bar exams can be put to jail for contempt so as to protect the integrity of the examinations.

 Further, SC can utilize its Executive Justices of the Visayas and Mindanao, its judges and their staff to help administer the exams.

 Hormachuelos clarified that while the next Bar chair committed to study the proposal, the positive response from the justices remains speculative since the decision will still come from the Chief Justice.

“But, I think it will pass. There’s a chance. It’s going to be a pilot project if Chief Justice Sereno will consent. We pray that it will not be denied. I hope she will see our way,” she said, adding that the Chief Justice is into innovations.(FREEMAN)

 

ACIRC BAR BUT HORMACHUELOS CEBU CEBU CITY CHAIR CHIEF JUSTICE CHIEF JUSTICE MARIA LOURDES SERENO CHIEF JUSTICE SERENO HORMACHUELOS NBSP
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