The Supreme Court of the Philippines yesterday signed a contract with Saint Louis University (SLU) in Baguio City, officially making the premier learning institution of the North one of the testing centers for the 2020/2021 Bar Examinations.
Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen (third from left), 2020/2021 Bar Examinations Chairperson, and Rev. Fr. Gilbert B. Sales, CICM (seated, fourth from left), President of SLU, led the signing for the Supreme Court and SLU, respectively, during a ceremony held at the Gevers Hall, Diego Silang Building, SLU.
Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo (seated, second from left) and SLU School of Law Dean Christine Angelica B. Elveña (rightmost) also signed the contract as witnesses. Also present in the event were the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court: Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe (leftmost), Justice Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa (standing, second from right), Justice Ramon Paul L. Hernando, Justice Rosmari D. Carandang, Justice Amy C. Lazaro- Javier, Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Justice Rodil V. Zalameda,
Justice Mario V. Lopez, Justice Samuel H. Gaerlan, Justice Ricardo
R. Rosario, and Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez.
In his presentation entitled “Looking Ahead: Meaningful Bar Reforms,” Justice Leonen disclosed that the Supreme Court is “ready to conduct localized Bar Examinations, with students bringing their own devices into their own classrooms,” with each classroom positioned following the guidelines of the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force.
Justice Leonen announced that the Supreme Court will soon launch an online portal for the digital filing of petitions to take the Bar Examinations called the Bar Personalized Login Unified System, or Bar PLUS. “No longer will a Bar applicant have to go to Manila, (to) line up at the Office of the Bar Confidant,” he said.
Using Bar PLUS, Bar Examinations applicants will be able to submit their personal details, access the necessary forms for their application, upload petition requirements, and pay for their application digitally. Applicants will also be able to choose their preferred exam venue, subject to the approval of the Office of the Bar Confidant. Justice Leonen said that Bar PLUS is scheduled to be launched on July 15 of this year.
Justice Leonen also revealed that to date, “there are already 16 local testing centers that have agreed to the Memorandum of Agreement based on the template approved by the Supreme Court En Banc:” Ateneo de Manila University; Manila Adventist College; SLU Baguio; Saint Louis College – La Union; Saint Mary’s University; Cagayan State University; De La Salle Lipa; University of Nueva Caceres; University of St. La Salle – Bacolod; Central Philippine University; University of Cebu – Banilad; Mindanao State University – Iligan; Mindanao State University – General Santos City; Ateneo de Davao University; Xavier University – Cagayan de Oro; and Ateneo de Zamboanga University. Justice Leonen added that the Court might have a total of 25 testing sites throughout the country, as the Court is still in the process of negotiating with several large schools to accommodate more bar examinees.
In his closing remarks, Chief Justice Gesmundo said that the reforms for Bar Examinations will continue beyond this year, as he will ask the members of the Supreme Court “to look into the revision of Rule 138 (of the Rules of Court), particularly on the Bar Exam coverage.” The Chief Justice noted that the provisions of the said
Rule have not changed since they were promulgated in1964. “Law courses have become varied; a lot of changes have happened in the field of law. And yet, we have not looked into these specific provisions of the Rules of Court,” lamented the Chief Justice.
“I would like the Court to continue looking at the course offerings of law schools along with the Revised Model Curriculum prepared by the the Legal Education Board,” he said, adding that the courses offered by law schools must be synchronized with the coverage of the Bar Exams.
Chief Justice Gesmundo served as Chairperson of the Organizing Committee for the Supreme Court’s 2019 Legal Education Summit, a two-day conference organized by the Court to assess and improve the quality of legal education in the country. The said Committee was tasked “to consult the stakeholders in different regions of the country to determine the problems encountered in legal education, and to formulate the proposed solutions to address them.” The 2020/2021 Bar Examinations will be held on November 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2021. (Photo and caption by the SC Public Information Office)