Clearing the Bar

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By Neil Honeyman

An Independent View

Monday, March 24, 2014

THE results of the 2013 Bar examinations were announced last week.

According to the Bar Chairman and Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion, of the 5,292 examinees who took the examinations in the four Sundays of October 2013, 1,174 passed. This represents a passing rate of 22.18 percent. The passing rate would have been lower but the Bar reduced the pass mark from 75 percent to 73 percent.

The media make much of the “Top Ten” passers. For reasons I do not understand, when two passers achieve the same mark, the next passer receives the rank that he would have received if only one person achieved the higher mark.


For example, the 2013 Bar Exams Top 10 are First: Nielson Pangan (UP) 85.80 percent, Second Equal: Mark Xavier Oyales (UP) and Dianna Louise Wilwayco (ADMU) 85.45 percent, Third: Rudy V. Ortea (University of Batangas) 84.20 percent.

Surely Ortea is fourth since there are three who precede him. Anyhow there are 11 in the “Top Ten.”

Locally, three students from the University of St. La Salle (USLS) and three from the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R) passed the examination.

The UNO-R graduates were all students who were taking the exam for at least the second time. Regrettably, therefore, no students from UNO-R’s 2013 batch were passers. Since there were at least 30 who took the exam, and the overall passing rate was 22.18 percent, it is not unreasonable to expect at least six to pass. UNO-R’s 100 percent failure rate for its class of 2013 should sound some warning bells.

UNO-R students express concern to me about the high rate of teacher absenteeism. Does this mean that UNO-R’s Faculty of Law is not taking enough interest in what is happening or not happening in its classrooms?

We hope UNO-R will take the situation seriously and find out why there is a demonstrable incompatibility between what the Bar is seeking and what UNO-R is providing.

Many of the teaching staff are part-timers who, by definition, have other commitments. Are they being paid enough or is UNO-R taking advantage of the fact that they have other sources of income?

Perhaps some staff need to be reminded that “habitual absences and tardiness from classes” is, according to the regulations of the Commission on Higher Education (Ched), a valid cause for terminating employment.

There are at least two other Bacolodnons who passed the Bar this year.

One is Philip Dabao Jr. who graduated from high school at USLS but who studied law at Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU). Another is Ramon Pandan whose law studies were at the University of the Philippines (UP).

Does this mean that Bacolodnons have more chances of passing the Bar if they attend UP or ADMU?

We would like to think that our local academic institutions can reach a higher standard so that our students have a reasonable chance of passing without having to travel.


‘A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.’ – Mario Puzo, The Godfather (1969), Chapter 1

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 24, 2014.


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