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SC: Bar examinees should isolate before online test

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The Supreme Court has strongly advised law graduates who will take the online bar examinations on Jan. 23 and 25 in testing centers nationwide to undergo self-quarantine starting on Monday, January 10.

In a Bar Bulletin, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, chair of the 2020-2021 bar examinations committee, reminded that “bar examinees who will test positive for COVID-19 both under the antigen test or RT-PCR test will automatically be denied entry to their local testing centers.”

“The prohibition will apply to all positive cases, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic,” Leonen stressed.

The SC said fully vaccinated examinees will undergo only one antigen test within 48 hours before the first examination, while those who will test positive under the antigen test shall be required to comply with the guidelines of their local testing center’s local government unit.

“Unvaccinated examinees, on the other hand, will be required to present negative nasal or saliva RT-PCR test results taken within 72 hours before the first examination. Information about testing will bed received through email by each examinee,” the Bar Bulletin stated.

“Examinees who have recovered from COVID-19 shall still be required to undergo an antigen test or RT-PCR test, as the case may be, before the first examination,” it said.

“Examinees who present a positive test result but have since recovered from COVID-19 up to a month before the first Bar examination day shall be required to present an affidavit stating under oath that (1) they are considered by the local government unit as a ‘recovered’ case and (2) they have completed the required isolation period,” the SC pointed out.

According to the tribunal, as the law graduates take the examination, Bar exam personnel will verify with the local government unit as to their status as “recovered” and any false statement shall be cause for outright disqualification.

“As an added layer of protection, especially against the new Omicron variant, all unvaccinated Bar examinees are also highly encouraged to get vaccinated before the Bar examinations,” the SC’s Bar Bulletin emphasized.

There are 11,790 law graduates who are expected to take the online bar examinations on Jan. 23 and 25.

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 high court 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 Jan. 23, while the other two sets will be on Jan. 25.

The revisions were recommended to the SC by Leonen. They will apply pro hac vice (for this one time only), meaning only for the 2020-2021 bar examinations.

“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. But while the bar examinations may no longer be postponed, it can be held in a way that is more humane.

With these changes, the Court strikes that balance,” the SC explained.


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