Question on Sereno son’s bar grade spooks SC execBy Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The spokesperson for the Supreme Court on Thursday bristled at an Inquirer inquiry about the grade the son of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno got in the 2012 bar examination.
The court announced the results of the bar exam on Wednesday.
The next day, the Inquirer asked the court’s spokesman, lawyer and former UP law professor Theodore Te, if he knew the grade of Jose Lorenzo Sereno, who was one of the 949 examinees who passed the exam.
Te told the Inquirer by text message that the information was “personal.”
“[W]ith due respect, that should not be in the news. Let’s give the guy a break,” Te said.
Explaining its interest in the grade of the Chief Justice’s son, the Inquirer reminded Te of the 1982 Ericta case.
“It has no similarity to the Ericta case and even the insinuation, without nothing to back it up, is uncalled for,” Te replied.
The case involved the son of former Supreme Court Associate Justice Vicente Ericta whose grade was changed to enable him to pass the 1981 bar exam.
Then Chief Justice Enrique Fernando admitted that he allowed the rechecking of the bar exam results for Ericta’s son Gustavo.
Gustavo Ericta’s grade in mercantile law was changed from 56 percent to 58 percent, allowing him to hit the 73 percent passing rate.
The disclosure of the grade fixing led to a scandal that forced the Supreme Court justices, including Fernando, to resign.
But days after the resignations, President Ferdinand Marcos swore them in again, except for Ericta and Justice Ramon Fernandez, who were found to be responsible for the grade fixing.
The 2012 bar exam saw the lowest number of passers in 13 years, with only 949 of the 5,343 examinees making it.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Martin Villarama Jr., who chaired the 2012 exam committee, said the court decided to lower the passing grade from 75 percent to 70 percent, following its tradition of lowering the passing mark every year.
Had the court not lowered the passing grade, the original passing rate for the 2012 exam would have been 6.76 percent, or only 361 examinees would have passed.
Villarama said the court lowered the passing grade because the passing percentage for labor and social legislation, criminal law and remedial law turned out to be low.
Villarama said he believed the low grades were a result of the multiple choice questions in the exam, which he found “confusing” because the choices seemed to be all correct.
Spirit of Lent
He said the court, “following history,” was liberal this year.
But the lowering of the passing grade was also made “in the spirit of the Lenten season,” he said.
Chief Justice Sereno inhibited herself from Wednesday’s full-court session because her son was one of the bar examinees.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio presided over the session.
For the 2013 bar exam, which will be chaired by Associate Justice Arturo Brion, the Supreme Court allowed 20 percent to be multiple choice questions and the rest, in essay form, Villarama said.
First posted 12:03 am | Saturday, March 23rd, 2013