SC declares unconstitutional admission test as requirement for entrance to law schools

Published December 3, 2019, 4:20 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Rey Panaligan

The Supreme Court (SC) has declared unconstitutional a requirement of the Legal Education Board (LEB) for students to pass the Philippine Law School Admission Test (PhiLSAT) for enrolment in law schools in the country.

Supreme Court of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN)
Supreme Court of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN)

LEB’s PhiLSAT requirement was declared by the SC as “an act and practice of excluding, restricting and qualifying admissions to law schools in violation of the institutional academic freedom on who to admit.”

Specifically, declared unconstitutional was paragraph 9 of LEB’s Memorandum Order No. 7-2016 which provides that “all college graduates or graduating students applying for admission to the basic law course shall be required to pass the PhiLSAT as a requirement for admission to any law school in the Philippines and that no applicant shall be admitted for enrolment as a first year student in the basic law courses leading to a degree of either Bachelor of Laws of Juris Doctor unless he/she has passed the PhiLSAT taken within two years before the start of studies for the basic law course.”

With the full court decision written by Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes Jr., the SC made permanent its temporary restraining order (TRO) issued last March against the implementation of PhiLSAT.

“The regular admission of students who were conditionally admitted and enrolled is left to the discretion of the law schools in the exercise of their academic freedom,” the SC declared.

Also declared unconstitutional were:

  1. “The act and practice of the LEB of dictating the qualifications and classifications of faculty members, dean, and dean of graduate schools of law in violation of institutional academic freedom on who may teach.
  2. “The act and practice of the LEB of dictating the policies on the establishment of legal apprenticeship and legal internship programs in violation of the institutional academic freedom on what to teach.”

The 107-page SC decision partially granted the petitions filed a group led by former Makati City regional trial court (RTC) Judge Oscar B. Pimentel and group of intervenors led by April D. Caballero.

PhiLSAT examinations were conducted by LEB in April 2017, September 2017, April 2018, and September 2018.

Based on LEB’s Memorandum No. 7, schoolyear 2017-2018 was the pilot year for PhiLSAT but law schools were allowed to enroll students who took the examinations but did not pass the tests.

The memorandum issued in 2016 provided for mechanisms to a day’s aptitude test to gauge the academic potentials of an examinee who wants to enroll in law schools.

On top of the abolition of LEB and PhiLSAT, Pimentel’s group also sought the transfer of the regulation of law schools to the SC.

The LEB was created under Republic Act No. 7662, known as the Legal Education Reform Act of 1993, as an agency separate from the Department of Education, but attached to it only for budgetary purposes and administrative support.

Among the powers vested in the LEB by the law were the administration of legal education system in the country, supervision of law schools, setting of standards for accreditation of law schools, prescription of minimum standards for law admission and minimum qualifications and compensation to faculty members.

Days before the conduct of the first PhiLSAT in 2017, Pimentel’s group filed a petition with the SC seeking to declare unconstitutional the creation of the LEB and to invalidate all the issuances of the board, particularly the admission test for law students.

The group said the functions of the LEB under the law that created it are encroachments on the rule-making power of the SC concerning admissions to the practice of law.

On March 12, 2019, the SC issued a TRO pleaded by Pimentel’s group on the issue on PhiLSAT.

Among other things, the SC ruled that:

“The PhiLSAT presently operates not only as a measure of an applicant’s aptitude for law school.  The PhiLSAT, as a pass or fail exam, dictates upon the law schools who among the examinees are to be admitted to any law program.

“When the PhiLSAT is used to exclude, qualify, and restrict admissions to law schools, as its present design mandates, the PhiLSAT goes beyond mere supervision and regulation, violates institutional academic freedom, becomes unreasonable and therefore, unconstitutional.”

Also declared unconstitutional for encroaching on the power of the SC were:

  1. Section 2, paragraph 2 of RA 7662 insofar as it unduly includes “continuing legal education” as an aspect of legal education which is made subject to executive supervision and control.
  2. Section 3(a)(2) of RA 7662 and Section 7(2) of LEBMO No. 1-2011 on the objective of legal education to increase awareness among members of the legal profession of the needs of the poor, deprived and oppressed sectors of society.
  3. Section 7(g) of RA 7662 and Section 11(g) of LEBMO No. 1-2011 insofar as it gives the LEB the power to establish a law practice internship as a requirement for taking the bar.
  4. Section 7(h) of RA 7662 and Section 11 (h) LEBMO No. 1-2011 insofar as it gives the LEB the power to adopt a system of mandatory continuing legal education and to provide for the mandatory attendance of practicing lawyers in such courses and for such duration as it may deem necessary.
 
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SC declares unconstitutional admission test as requirement for entrance to law schools

Published December 3, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Rey Panaligan

The Supreme Court (SC) has declared unconstitutional a requirement of the Legal Education Board (LEB) for students to pass the Philippine Law School Admission Test (PhiLSAT) for enrolment in law schools in the country.

Supreme Court of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN)
Supreme Court of the Philippines (MANILA BULLETIN)

LEB’s PhiLSAT requirement was declared by the SC as “an act and practice of excluding, restricting and qualifying admissions to law schools in violation of the institutional academic freedom on who to admit.”

Specifically, declared unconstitutional was paragraph 9 of LEB’s Memorandum Order No. 7-2016 which provides that “all college graduates or graduating students applying for admission to the basic law course shall be required to pass the PhiLSAT as a requirement for admission to any law school in the Philippines and that no applicant shall be admitted for enrolment as a first year student in the basic law courses leading to a degree of either Bachelor of Laws of Juris Doctor unless he/she has passed the PhiLSAT taken within two years before the start of studies for the basic law course.”

With the full court decision written by Associate Justice Jose C. Reyes Jr., the SC made permanent its temporary restraining order (TRO) issued last March against the implementation of PhiLSAT.

“The regular admission of students who were conditionally admitted and enrolled is left to the discretion of the law schools in the exercise of their academic freedom,” the SC declared.

Also declared unconstitutional were:

  1. “The act and practice of the LEB of dictating the qualifications and classifications of faculty members, dean, and dean of graduate schools of law in violation of institutional academic freedom on who may teach.
  2. “The act and practice of the LEB of dictating the policies on the establishment of legal apprenticeship and legal internship programs in violation of the institutional academic freedom on what to teach.”

The 107-page SC decision partially granted the petitions filed a group led by former Makati City regional trial court (RTC) Judge Oscar B. Pimentel and group of intervenors led by April D. Caballero.

PhiLSAT examinations were conducted by LEB in April 2017, September 2017, April 2018, and September 2018.

Based on LEB’s Memorandum No. 7, schoolyear 2017-2018 was the pilot year for PhiLSAT but law schools were allowed to enroll students who took the examinations but did not pass the tests.

The memorandum issued in 2016 provided for mechanisms to a day’s aptitude test to gauge the academic potentials of an examinee who wants to enroll in law schools.

On top of the abolition of LEB and PhiLSAT, Pimentel’s group also sought the transfer of the regulation of law schools to the SC.

The LEB was created under Republic Act No. 7662, known as the Legal Education Reform Act of 1993, as an agency separate from the Department of Education, but attached to it only for budgetary purposes and administrative support.

Among the powers vested in the LEB by the law were the administration of legal education system in the country, supervision of law schools, setting of standards for accreditation of law schools, prescription of minimum standards for law admission and minimum qualifications and compensation to faculty members.

Days before the conduct of the first PhiLSAT in 2017, Pimentel’s group filed a petition with the SC seeking to declare unconstitutional the creation of the LEB and to invalidate all the issuances of the board, particularly the admission test for law students.

The group said the functions of the LEB under the law that created it are encroachments on the rule-making power of the SC concerning admissions to the practice of law.

On March 12, 2019, the SC issued a TRO pleaded by Pimentel’s group on the issue on PhiLSAT.

Among other things, the SC ruled that:

“The PhiLSAT presently operates not only as a measure of an applicant’s aptitude for law school.  The PhiLSAT, as a pass or fail exam, dictates upon the law schools who among the examinees are to be admitted to any law program.

“When the PhiLSAT is used to exclude, qualify, and restrict admissions to law schools, as its present design mandates, the PhiLSAT goes beyond mere supervision and regulation, violates institutional academic freedom, becomes unreasonable and therefore, unconstitutional.”

Also declared unconstitutional for encroaching on the power of the SC were:

  1. Section 2, paragraph 2 of RA 7662 insofar as it unduly includes “continuing legal education” as an aspect of legal education which is made subject to executive supervision and control.
  2. Section 3(a)(2) of RA 7662 and Section 7(2) of LEBMO No. 1-2011 on the objective of legal education to increase awareness among members of the legal profession of the needs of the poor, deprived and oppressed sectors of society.
  3. Section 7(g) of RA 7662 and Section 11(g) of LEBMO No. 1-2011 insofar as it gives the LEB the power to establish a law practice internship as a requirement for taking the bar.
  4. Section 7(h) of RA 7662 and Section 11 (h) LEBMO No. 1-2011 insofar as it gives the LEB the power to adopt a system of mandatory continuing legal education and to provide for the mandatory attendance of practicing lawyers in such courses and for such duration as it may deem necessary.
 
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