What Went Before: 1982 Ericta case


The Supreme Court building in Manila. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

In 1982, 12 justices of the Supreme Court resigned amid allegations that several justices were involved in changing the grade of Gustavo Ericta, son of Justice Vicente Ericta, so that he would pass the 1981 bar exams.

Then Chief Justice Enrique Fernando acknowledged in a news conference that he had authorized the revision of the grading of one examination, benefiting Ericta’s son.

Fernando said he allowed the changing of young Ericta’s grade because the examiner who corrected the tests supposedly overlooked Ericta’s answer to one question.

In tears, Fernando admitted guilt. “Perhaps my sense of compassion may have blurred my judgment,” he said.

Justice Ameurfina Melencio-Herrera disclosed the changing of Ericta’s grade, triggering the scandal.

She said her colleagues fixed the bar exam scores so that Ericta’s son would pass.

Among those who resigned were Fernando, Ericta, Melencio-Herrera and Justices Ramon Aquino, Ramon Fernandez and Antonio Barredo, who were also accused of direct involvement in the fixing.

Justices Claudio Teehankee, Felix Makassiar, Juvenal Guerrero, Pacifico de Castro, Efren Plana and Venicio Escolin also offered to resign despite not being directly implicated.

Days later, President Ferdinand E. Marcos swore in a new Supreme Court, including Fernando, who was reinstated as Chief Justice, and the other justices who resigned amid the scandal.

But Fernandez and Ericta were not reappointed because they were “found responsible” for the grade fixing.—Inquirer Research

Sources: Daily News, Kingman Daily Miner, New York Times, Newsbreak, Inquirer Archives

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