What Went Before: 1982 Ericta case

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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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  • japokjackpot

    cliffhangers? sc heads roll…

  • bongarroyo

    sa palagay niyo ba papayag ang grupo ni tandang carpio na doktorin iyong resulta para makapasa lang iyong anak ni sereno?
    flag ceremony nga lang na isyu di magkasundo ito pa kayang ganito.

    • rodben

      Di pa tapos issue ng Malacanang sa Sabah SC na naman…..napakaswerte naman ng Pinas sa year of WATER SNEAK ng mga intsek pero hindi yata nabanggit ito ng mga Fung shui expert….dahil pawang hula nila sa Pinas ay pawang magaganda parang SWS at PULSE ASIA survey..

  • kalealaskador

    Just goes to show that there was more delicadeza in those days when all the justices resigned. At least Marcos sacked those responsible. Do you believe the present justices will do the same? Now it is ” Pakapalan ng mukha!”. Mga walang hiya. And to think, these ARE justices of the SUPREME COURT!

    • speaksoftlylove

      The late Justice Fernandez was my former law professor. He was the valedictorian in their law studies at UP but wound up third in the bar. He was a close fraternal brother of Marcos. If you remember the Lucila Lalu jigsaw murder case in Manila, he was the counsel who acquitted the suspect even though the suspect has admitted the crime in media three times. He revealed in open class, his times with Marcos, more specifically the Nalundasan case and the Ericta bar examination issue. He said that he was pleaded by Marcos not to resign on the reality that he did not physically changed the grade of Ericta. But he admitted that he was the one who convinced others to allow Ericta to pass not only because the father of Ericta was also a fraternal brother but more importantly because the late Justice Ericta was also his close kumpadre.

      He returned to legal practice and never attempted to enter [politics despite his awesome connections. He remained loyal to Marcos until his death and in fact, one of Marcos advisers behind the scenes. No one knew that he was a very trusted adviser of Marcos. That’s how humble Justice Fernandez was, and loyal to friends and fraternal brothers, no matter what. Maybe you will chastise the late Justice Fernandez but I respected his unwavering loyalty.

      • bongarroyo

        sfakefrire bar exam flunker and 3 times refresher ka pala, kaya pala inggit na inggit ka sa mga pumapasa…LOL

        sa ngayon puro fairy tales ka lang muna..

      • jpmd88

        This kind of practice is what is wrong with our system. The politics of patronage.

      • FRPSR

        I am confused as to the names the Inquirer has posited as culpable .

        For example …

        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.

        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

        I am out of my depth , being in an unfamiliar language , and cultural territory . As belonging to a honorable tradesman and artisan career , I am untrained as a lawyer or journalist . I also recognize the weakness in my understanding of Filipino subtleties involving language and culture . This has not satisfied my confusion over the above conflation with Fernando, and Fernandez .

        Being a colleague , spitfire , perhaps you could put to bed these restless thoughts .

  • speaksoftlylove

    The bongangaraw below just could not understand the issue so forgive him for he doesn’t know what he is doing. Walang grade na dinoktor bongangaraw, huwag kang magpasaway dyan.

    Seriously, I want to disagree with the statement of the Bar Examination Chairman Justice Villarama to wit:

    First, “Lowering the Average Rating that is, the average grade of all eight subjects in the bar examination has never been a tradition. What became a tradition is that in 1989 the Supreme Court removed the “automatic disqualification policy” that is, if you got a grade lower than 75% in one of the bar exam subjects (there are 8 subjects in the exams) you will automatically be disqualified and fail the bar exam. But from our time to this day, even if you got a grade lower than 75% in one or two subjects but got high marks in other subjects, you will still pass the bar exams if your average rating in all subject is NOT less than 75%. The reason why the Supreme Court never lowered the passing average mark is because if they lower it to say 74% there would be unending questions of “why not lower it to 73%, 72%, 71% and so on until 0%..

    Second, contrary to what Villarama wanted to intimate that the 2012 format has been changed to multiple type and objective type only in 2012, the format of the bar examinations was changed in 1989 without informing the examinees beforehand. They included objective type questions consisting of definitions and enumerations. I know this for a fact because, I was one of the bar examinees. Mabuti nga yang kumuha noong nakaraang bar alam na nila na may objective type. Besides, multiple choice lang, nasa harap na nila ang sagot, compared to our time. So anong mahirap sa multiple choice?

    Third, lowering the rating allegedly in the spirit of Holy Week is something new and that it happened only this time. Noong panahon namin wala kahit man lang in the spirit of

    Casper.

    Finally, it would have been better had PDI emphasized that Ericta retook the Bar Examinations and passed it the second time around fair and square.

    • bongarroyo

      hahahaha…sabi ko nga ba’t ikaw ang kakagat sa pain kong ito e..
      di ba sabi mo doon sa kabila hindi umabot sa 75% iyong nakuhang score ng anak ni sereno kaya binabaan iyong passing grade?
      o di lumalabas na amalayer ka talaga…LOL

  • speaksoftlylove

    The bar examination results, ,much more the sudden change or lowering of passing rating is supposed to be confidential. Therefore there is no doubt in my mind thst one of the disgusted bar examiners or one of the members of the Supreme Court leaked this issue.

    More importantly, the person who leaked this issue is motivated to expose that such sudden change of SC bar examination policy is geared to accommodate Sereno’s son who seemingly got a grade lower than 75%.

    Finally, there is no doubt in mind that Sereno herself knows the whole story. Meron na tayong pruweba na mahjilig magpalusot si Sereno. Biruin mong gumawa ng pekeng resolution at lantarang ipinangalandakan na approved daw ng Supreme Court en banc? Yon lang bar exams ang di kayang palusutan ni Sereno, aber?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NXV3F6YUQWDOA4HPYOFN5F2N3U Danyel

    Most of the time lahat ng justices ay may kamag-anak o kakilala na kumukuha ng Bar exams so lahat yan papayag na ibaba ang passing grade….

    Pero hindi talaga dapat ibaba from 75 to 70..mantak mo lawyer ka nga tapos ang grade mo pala ay 70..baka wala kumuha sayo pag nalaman ang grade mo….at pumasa ka lang dahil ibinaba ang passing score….kahit sa grade one hindi ka papasa pag 70 ang grade mo…..

    One more thing, dapat round robin ang examiners from all law schools. mali na puro UP and Ateneo grads lang ang examiners. Tao rin ang mga yan, matutukso at matutukso ang mga yan na sabihin sa examinees ng schools nila ang questions sa bar. No wonder, these two schools frequently land in the top ten, although last yr. walang UP na pumasok sa top 10……

    Try to get an examiner from nameless law schools to level the playing field. If you doubt his/her credibility then impose these restrictions: at least 83% in the bar exams, take one, at lest ten yrs in the profession, etc…handsome like me if you might add…..

    • louie

      It’s unfair to say that up and ateneo bar examinees pass because of connection. To tell you frankly, these law schools are two of the most sought after. So expect that many of the brightest aspiring lawyers will apply and get absorb by these institution.

  • louie

    Is this scandal boadcasted and published back in ’82? Imagining this kind of mass resignation now in SC, it would really rock the already shock-stricken high court.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003247426337 Carlos Acoba

    CJ serrano UMPISAHAN MU NANG MAGRESIGN KUNG MAY DELICADEZA CA!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003247426337 Carlos Acoba

    AY… WALA NA PALANG WORD NA DELICADEZA SA DIKSIYONARYO..

  • Concur_Dissent

    Thank you PDI for posting this Ericta case. At least now, those intelligent readers can see that there is no comparison with a scandal that your reporter, Ms Avendano, seem’s to insinuate is happening…. The ericta case was about a single test paper alteration, in this instant case, the SC lowered the passing average ACROSS THE BOARD…. nO ONE EVEN KNOWS IF THE SERENO KID BENEFITED FROM THIS SC DECISION….

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