Supreme Court approves regionalization of next bar exam

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) announced today, August 13, the planned regionalization of the next bar exam citing the social and economic impact as well as government restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Supreme Court approves regionalization of next bar exam

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen approved the designation of Cebu City as regional site with the final venue to be announced in a later date.

"A site visit shall be conducted to find suitable venue for the examinations, the schedule of which shall be determined once domestic travel restrictions have been lifted," the resolution promulgated on April 29 reads.

The Bar examinations in Manila still hosted at University of Santo Tomas (UST).

SC said law graduates from Visayas and Mindanao shall be given option to take bar exam in Manila or Cebu City.

"The social impact of providing a regional site for the bar examinations cannot be overemphasized, and may even lead to more regional sites in the future," the High Court said.

In 2002, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines - Cebu City Chapter had proposed Cebu City to be another site of bar examination. There were several requests afterwards. In 2016, the Court agreed to the proposal of retired Court of Appeals Justice Portia Hormachuelos to simultaneously hold the bar exam in Manila and Cebu if the regional site had 1,000 candidates, but it was later disallowed due to low turnout of prospective examinees.

In the February 21, 2020 survey of the Philippine Association of Law Schools, 89% of respondents were in favor of the regional site, preferably in Cebu City, in the next bar exams.

SC also cited that holding of bar exam in Manila has been a continous financial and emotional burden on candidates from the Visayas and Mindanao, who must spend inordinate sums to sustain their stay in Manila and be separated from their loved ones who could provide them with tangible and emotional support.

Regionalization will also lessen the logistical problems caused by the travel restrictions and curfew regulations that the bar candidates will face in the coming months, SC added.

Meanwhile, there will be a corresponding increase in the Bar application fees to cover the cost of regionalization.

In April, the Supreme Court postponed the conduct of the 2020 bar exam due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country, as well as the economic disruption caused by the pandemic. Leonen said the next bar exam would "definitely be held" in 2021.

The Bar Exams were usually held at the UST during all four Sundays of November.

READ: Supreme Court postpones 2020 bar exam due to COVID-19

— The Summit Express

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