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About 96 percent of examinees attend Day 1 of 2020/2021 bar exams

/ 05:21 PM February 04, 2022
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen at the command center at the UP College of Law complex in Diliman gives update about day 1 of the 2020/21 Bar examination. Photo: screengrab from Supreme Court's streaming of Friday's press conference

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen at the command center at the UP College of Law complex in Diliman gives an update about Day 1 of the 2020/21 Bar examination. Screengrab from Supreme Court’s streaming of Friday’s press conference

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 11,378 law graduates are taking the 2020/21 bar examination in 31 testing sites located in 22 local government units all over the country, Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said Friday.

Leonen, chairman of the 2020/21 Bar examination said there were 11,790 law graduates who paid the application fee to take the bar exam, while only 11,405 downloaded the examination files.

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He said the 11,378 turnout on Friday is 96.5 percent, which is still a good enough number given the pandemic.

Pandemic adjusments

The bar examination committee led by Leonen pushed through with the examinations after a two-year hiatus at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 until 2021.

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The high court initially set the exams on November 2021, but by September of that year the country was experiencing a surge in the number of cases due to the Delta variant, prompting the SC to again defer it to January 16, 23, 30 and February 6, of this year.

By January, however, the country’s COVID-19 cases again hit record-high cases due to the Omicron variant so the high court decided to reschedule the exams to just two days—February 4 and 6.

The committee made adjustments and introduced innovations to work around the existing pandemic restrictions, including the health protocols imposed by the government.

The 2020/2021 bar examination also introduced a lot of firsts for the court and the history of Philippine bar — first digital examination, first to conduct exam in several testing sites around the country, first time tests were conducted for two days instead of the usual four Sundays of a whole month, while the duration of the exam had also been shortened.

The next examination is set for February 6.

Health protocols

Leonen said 8,461 opted for the SC’s antigen-administered test, of which only 1.36 percent tested positive.

While the court had previously advised the barristers to quarantine themselves prior to the examinations, the magistrate clarified that not all those who tested positive were not allowed to take the examination.

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“The news swirling in social media is not accurate. Just because you tested positive does not necessarily mean you are not allowed to enter [the testing sites],” he said.

He explained that following the Department of Health’s and Local Government Unit’s guidelines, a person who tested positive, has been properly isolated for seven days for vaccinated, and 14 or 21 days for the unvaccinated, can be allowed to enter testing sites.

The magistrate, however, said there are still a few examinees who were not allowed to take the examination after testing positive for COVID-19.

“Hindi ko ma-imagine ang nararamdaman nila. Ayaw kong magkunwari na mayroon akong masasabing wisdom para sa kanila [I cannot imagine what they are feeling. I do not want to pretend that there is a wisdom that I can share with them.]

Leonen said they have studied every possible contingency “for the past two years and two months.” He said they can postpone the Bar to achieve a 100 percent turnout or violate government circulars.

“Madali sabihin basta asymptomatic papasukin [It is easy to say we allow entry of those who tested positive but asymptomatic]. But science says the virus can be carried even by an asymptomatic within a period of seven days from onset of symptoms,” he explained.

“We cannot be clueless to be popular. We cannot be careless just to show we are compassionate. In fact, we have to be protective of everybody who wishes to take the Bar exam,” Leonen said.

Inside the testing sites, physical distancing is strictly observed, examinees are not allowed to go out of the sites to eat.

Advice to examinees

Leonen likewise advised the examinees not to rush things but “live in the present moment.”

“Pag tapos nitong araw na ito, matulog sila, wag sila mag-cramming, ipahinga nila yung katawan nila, kanilang isip at bukas konting review lang [After this day, they should catch up on sleep. Do not cram, relax their mind and body and tomorrow, study a little.]

“Make peace on your faiths whatever it is and again to be able to take the Bar meaningfully, understand what is their purpose,” the magistrate said.

RELATED STORIES:

No notice of admission yet? ‘Don’t panic’, Office the Bar Confidant tells examinees

SC reschedules 2020/21 Bar Examination to February 4 and 6

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TAGS: 2020/21 Bar examination, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, BestBarEver
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