Wed. May 25th, 2022

By the Staff

MANILA – A recent decision of the Supreme Court to regionalize the Bar examinations starting next year (2021) is a dream-come-true to four former Cebuano Bar topnotchers and a college of law dean.

Preparation, grit and perseverance, aiming to pass, and belief in the system and University of San Carlos in Cebu were the ingredients for the four Cebuano topnotchers in the recent Bar examinations.

But above all else, the young lawyers in Marcley Augustus Natu-el (2nd place), Lawrence Badayos (3rd place), Jebb Lynus Cane (9th place), Alen Joel Pita (10th place), the comfort of home and family are of greatest advantage aside from economic reasons.

The young lawyers were all product of the University of San Carlos (USC) School of Law, the only school outside imperial Metro Manila that had graduates breaking into the Top 10 of the Bar examinations.

Aside from the young lawyers, regionalization of the Bar exams starting next year is of similar feat to former University of Cebu-College of Law dean Baldomero Estenzo, who has pushed for it for more than a decade.

“I am happy not for myself but I am happy for those who would benefit from it,” Estenzo said in reaction to news that the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta and 2020 Bar chairman Associate Justice Marvic Leonen agreed to hold the 2021 Bar exams in two separate venues following the cancellation of the 2020 Bar exams due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The SC agreed to hold two separate venues for the 2021 Bar Exam – one in Manila and the other in Cebu. The University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila has been the venue for Bar exams since 2011.

Anenias and Estenzo. (Photo courtesy of Philstar)

According to Estenzo he had been passionately campaigning since 2007 for the regionalization of the Bar exams to help students who could not immediately take the Bar exams after graduation primarily because of the high cost of review, food, lodging and transportation.

The law dean explained that about 95 percent of UC College of Law students are working to support their studies.

And for them to take the exams in Manila, examinees should prepare for their travel, lodging and all of at least P200,000 to P300,000, he said.

“This is a double whammy because when they travel to Manila, they would have to leave their jobs in Cebu, and they need the money to finance their Bar exams preparations. Some of them are married and have children, so they carry with them not just the financial baggage but also the emotional and psychological baggage,” Estenzo said.

“Their support systems, such as their family, are not with them during the time they are preparing for the most important examination that they are going to take… So, they might not be in their best physical and mental condition when preparing for the exam,” he pointed out.

Estenzo said he first brought out the idea of regionalizing the Bar exams before to the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS), which then forwarded his request to the SC.

And way back in 2012, Estenzo and UC Law students formally filed a petition with the SC for the decentralization of the Bar exams.

Among the documents they submitted to the High Court were resolutions from the then Cebu City Council and from the Cebu Provincial Board, expressing their support for regionalized Bar exams.

Their request fell on deaf ears but he said they “did not stop the advocacy because there were a lot of law graduates who have not taken the Bar because they could not afford it. I would really want to help the less fortunate law students” he said.

Estenzo also averred that many law deans in the provinces favor regionalizing the Bar exams.

Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS) president and Universidad de Manila (UDM) College of Law dean Marisol Anenias said it was good that the SC, especially Peralta and Leonen, was very receptive to the idea of having regionalized Bar exams.

Anenias said they have been discussing the matter with Leonen since October and November last year.

Along with it, they are also hoping that after Cebu, the SC would also grant Bar exams of similar concept in Mindanao.

“This is groundbreaking. If this becomes successful in Cebu, they would be able to prove that the concept was correct. Therefore, it might be possible to bring it to other areas later on,” Anenias added.

Anenias also said PALS, which is made up of 125 member-schools, would give its full support for the success of next year’s Bar exams.

“The regionalization makes the Bar exams more accessible and equitable to the Bar taker… It will give economical option, maybe it would be less expensive (for the Bar examinees) to go to Cebu,” she said.

“It would also allow Bar takers to have their support system with them such as their family and classmates. It is very good to have them around because it eases the pressure of going through a very mentally demanding (examination),” Anenias added. (ia/

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