SC: Confusing recitation questions UNLAWFUL for causing anxiety, panic

En banc, voting 15-0, in the case of Asakapa v. Basakana (G.R. No. 119190, March 31, 2020), the Supreme Court of the Philippines declared unlawful and illegal all recitation questions in law school that cause confusion and panic among law students.

According to the Supreme Court, extremely difficult law school recitation questions cause physical suffering, mental anguish, fright, serious anxiety, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, moral shock and social humiliation, citing Article 2217 of Republic Act No. (RA) 386. Said the Court, there is no point in such mental and psychological torture if law schools truly aim quality education and hope to produce quality lawyers.

In Asakapa v. Basakana, the petitioner is a law student who was made to stand in his criminal law class for almost two (2) hours due to his failure to answer basic recitation questions such as:
  1. What is a crime?
  2. What is a felony?
  3. What is an offense?
  4. What is culpa?
  5. What is dolo?
Atty. Ma. Hera P. Magtanong, in an interview, explained that this barbaric torture of the mental faculties in law school should not be taken against her because it has been a long-standing tradition in the Philippines dating as far back as 1901. She added that all lawyers, judges, justices and law experts have gone through the same humiliating and difficult experience of answering almost-impossible legal questions from law professors.Petitioner Asakapa K. Asi is a first-year law student and Atty. Magtanong is his professor in criminal law one (criminal law principles). Dean Ho Y. Basakana was impleaded as one of the respondents; he is the Dean of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines.

The Supreme Court, further explained that law professors who abuse and maltreat their students with very difficult questions during law school recitations should be made liable for Php50,000.00 for each instance of extremely difficult and confusing recitation question (each question) that would cause the student a feeling of panic, discomfort and humiliation. Law school deans, on the other hand, who allow such practice shall be liable for Php10,000.00 only.

Critics denounce this decision by the Supreme Court as a direct affront to academic freedom and an assault against the century-old law school tradition that the Philippine legal system cherishes and protects. Nevertheless, according to them, they are ready to file a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court tomorrow, April 02, 2020. Happy April Fools' Day!

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