A senior member of the House of Representatives on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to extend the conduct of the 2021 Bar examinations to Mindanao.
“Since the SC has set the next exams for November next year, the court will have sufficient time to designate a city in Mindanao as an additional test venue,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said.
He said the tribunal earlier announced that other than Metro Manila, where it has been administering the test for law graduates, the next exams would be conducted for the first time outside the National Capital Region in Cebu City to lessen the cost for examinees.
“For aspiring lawyers in Mindanao, taking the exams in Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, or General Santos City would mean lesser expenses compared to travelling and staying for at least a month for the pre-week bar review in Cebu City or in Manila,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said that assuming the vaccine is already available or the Covid-19 pandemic is already over by November next year, people would still be suffering from loss of jobs and income and from incurring higher amounts of personal and household expenses due to the health crisis.
“So definitely, having the exams in more accessible and affordable places would benefit not only law graduates but their families as well,” he said.
On Tuesday, the SC announced that it has set the schedule of the next bar examination on November 2021.
The tribunal added that it will not conduct exams this year due to the pandemic.
“By approval of the Court En Banc, the next Bar Examination will be held [in] November 2021,” stated the Bar Bulletin No. 13 signed by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the 2020 Bar Examination Committee Chairman.
The SC, however, has yet to determine the examination periods and venues, which the high bench intends to announce in a separate Bar Bulletin.
SC’s Public Information Chief and Spokesman Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka said November 2021 is the earliest Bar examination schedule.
Hosaka clarified that Justice Leonen will remain the chairman of the November 2021 Bar Committee.
“As far as the November 2021 Bar is concerned, it is Justice Leonen,” he said.
The SC said that law graduates who is qualified to take the Bar exams in November 21 will be allowed to take it regardless of what year they graduated.
Hosaka said they expect that the number of applicants to double.
“Yes [the number of applicants could increase] since two batches of law school graduates will presumably be qualified to take the Bar,” Hosaka said.
The Supreme Court postponed the 2020 Bar examination due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, its social and economic effects, and the strict community quarantine.