Only 281 passed when Perlas-Bernabe was examiner

SOURCE: GMANews (2008). Only 281 would hurdle Bar exams had SC not lowered passing rate. Published March 30, 2008 7:16pm.

Had the Supreme Court not adjusted the passing rate in the 2007 Bar examinations, only 281 out of 5,626 examinees would have made it.

The 2007 Bar examinations were said to be extremely difficult that only five percent of the total law graduates who took the tests in the four Sundays of September last year would have met the usual 75 percent passing rate. But such was the original design of Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna, chair of the 2007 committee on Bar examinations, if he were to have his way.

Court sources said that as early as April, Azcuna was telling and warning law students prior to the 2007 exams to study hard because that year’s set of questions would separate the mediocre from the best.

Azcuna was also quoted as saying that there is a need to raise the standards of the Court in conducting Bar examinations "because we already have too many lawyers."

"The Bar examinations are not difficult, it depends on the examinees. If he prepared well and studied well, and prayed hard, then he will make it," Azcuna said in previous interviews.

In determining the average, subjects in the examinations are given the following relative weights: Political and International Law, 15%; Labor and Social Legislation, 10%; Civil Law, 15%; Taxation, 10%; Mercantile Law, 15%; Criminal Law, 10%; Remedial Law, 20%; and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises, 5%, for a total of 100%.

Following an en banc session Friday, the SC decided to adjust the passing rate from 75 percent to 70 percent, with the adjustments being made in the categories of civil, labor and criminal laws.

With the adjustment in the grading system, the number of passing examinees went up 22.91 percent, or 1,289 Bar passers. But, in a press conference before the result of the Bar exams was made public, Azcuna said the adjustment in the passing rate was made not because the examinations were "unusually difficult.""The correction (by the examiners) was unusually strict so that the justices of the court felt there was a need to lower the passing rate. There was need to lower the passing grade in order to balance the correction in these three subjects," he said. Azcuna said that the Office of the Bar Confidant took time in decoding the numbers assigned to each examinee to enable them to double-check the law schools of the examinees, noting that in some instances, the names of these schools are being changed occasionally.

A number of SC justices did not take part in the deliberations because they have relatives who took the 2007 Bar exams. They were Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Associate Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Conchita Carpio-Morales and Presbiterio Velasco Jr.

Examiners for the 2007 Bar were UP Dean Raul Pangalangan for International and Political law; Atty. Rodolfo Salalima for Labor and Social Legislation; Atty. Cirilo Tolosa for Civil law; Atty. Lily Gruba for Taxation; Court of Appeals Justice Estella Perlas-Bernabe for Mercantile law; Atty. Raymond Fortun for Criminal law; Atty. Sandra Olaso-Coronel for Remedial law; and CA Justice Cristina Estrada for Legal Ethics.

The 2007 Bar was topped by mostly female examinees, led by 27-year old Mercedita Ona of Ateneo de Manila University, who garnered a rating of 83.550 percent. A close second was Jennifer Ong of the University of the Philippines, who got an 83.350 percent grade. Third place was Yvanna Maalat of Ateneo, followed by Jennie Aclan of University of San Carlos (4th); John Michael Galauran of University of Nueva Caceres (5th); and Karen Canullas of San Sebastian College (6th). Tying in the seventh place were Cecille Mejia of Ateneo and Sheryl Ann Tizon of UP; Marforth Fua of San Beda College (8th); Ruby Luy of Ateneo de Davao University (9th); and Christian Llido of University of Cebu and Vivian Tan of UP, both at 10th place.

Oathtaking of the successful Bar candidates is set at 2 p.m. on April 29 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Justice Dante Tinga is the chair of the 2008 Committee on Bar Examinations. So far, the highest Bar rating was obtained by retired SC justice Florenz Regalado who got in 1954 the highest score of 96.7 percent, but it was former senator Tecla San Andres-Ziga who became the first woman to top the Bar, scoring 89.4 percent in 1930.

SOURCE: GMANews (2008). Only 281 would hurdle Bar exams had SC not lowered passing rate. Published March 30, 2008 7:16pm.