"Come now the undersigned aspiring lawyers-petitioners and to the Honorable Bar Examiners respectfully state: That they have completed the bar exams during the past four Sundays this month...”
This might well be the unsaid Petition of 7,699 law graduates before sundown tomorrow after taking the 2019 Bar examinations who have been previously challenged to be “keenly aware” of, among others, impunity in this country that has around 60,000 lawyers on the rolls of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Compared to other professions, analysts say the number of lawyers, many of whom have taken a detour to other callings, is still small—from 1901 when the first 13 examinees were recorded.
There were originally 8,245 accredited for the 2019 Bar exams but 546 did not show up on the day of examinations on Nov. 3, disqualifying the latter to go through the exams. That, after the Supreme Court also adopted the two-examiner per subject policy, upon the recommendation of Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, the chairperson of the committee on bar examinations.
Under the rules, if a law graduate who has been accredited to take any of the eight subjects in the examinations, he or she is automatically disqualified for the entire examinations.
The 2019 Bar exams will slide down to memory, but anxiety rises as the aspiring lawyers-petitioners await the results before they take their lawyer's oath, where they will “do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give aid or consent to the same; delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct [themselves] as lawyers according to the best of [their] knowledge and discretion, with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [their] clients...”
It is only proper that they should inculcate in their idealistic mental blocks what Associate Justice Bernabe had told 1,800 new lawyers who took their oath last year: “Never compromise your integrity.”
Bernabe's main message, which remains an axiom today as the 2019 Bar exam lights will fade out into a breathing recollection tomorrow, must be inserted in between the pages of the aspiring lawyers' petition: “At the end of it all, always remember that in whatever opportunity you choose, your integrity is non-negotiable.”
As future lawyers, the hopeful 7,699 should remember, in litigation or in interpreting the laws, that it is their eventual duty to be defenders of justice.