The Supreme Court (SC) decided on Friday, Jan. 14, to reset the two-day 2020-2021 online bar examinations to Feb. 4, Friday, and Feb. 6, Sunday.
In a bar bulletin issued by Associate Justice Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, chair of the bar examinations committee, the SC said:
“As of today, 16.8 percent of the 8,546 Bar examinees who have responded to an email sent by the Office of the Bar Chairperson are any of the three: positive for COVID-19; living with someone positive for COVID-19; or under quarantine due to a direct contact.
“They are at risk of not being able to take the Bar Examinations if the original schedule of January 23 to 25, 2022 were to push through.
“Also, given the current infection rate and quarantine situation of the Bar personnel, 16 of the 31 teams that will be deployed will be critically understaffed if the current schedule were maintained.
“Considering these numbers, as well as the projections of the Court’s expert consultants on the progress of this current COVID-19 surge, the Supreme Court En Banc has unanimously decided that the Bar Examinations be rescheduled to February 4, 2022, Friday; and February 6, 2022, Sunday.
“All existing instructions in previous Bar Bulletins not affected by this decision remain effective. All examinees will be advised to strictly undergo quarantine by January 20, 2022, Thursday.”
There are 11,790 law graduates who are expected to take the online bar examinations.
The increase was attributed to the postponement of the 2020 bar examinations due to COVID-19 pandemic and the decision to hold the tests simultaneously with the 2021 law graduates.
The SC had decided to reduce the coverage and shorten the duration of the 2020-2021 online bar examinations.
Now, the two-day examinations – instead of four successive Sundays – will cover four comprehensive sets unlike the traditional eight subjects.
The four sets are: 1. The Law Pertaining to the State and Its Relationship with Its Citizens (formerly Political Law, Labor Law, and Taxation Law), 2. Criminal Law, 3. The Law Pertaining to Private Personal and Commercial Relations (formerly Civil Law and Commercial Law), and 4. Procedure and Professional Ethics (formerly Remedial Law, Legal Ethics, and Practical Exercises).
The first two sets will be taken up on the first day of the examinations, while the other two sets will be on the second day.
The revisions were recommended to the SC by Justice Leonen. They will apply pro hac vice (for this one time only), meaning only for the 2020-2021 bar examinations.
The SC said “these changes pro hac vice seeks to meet the demand for new lawyers amid the disasters plaguing the country. The Philippines has produced no new lawyers since the pandemic.