DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 July) – For the first time in history, Law graduates nationwide will no longer troop to Manila to take the bar exams there. In Mindanao, Law graduates can choose from among five universities that will serve as testing sites.
According to Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, chair of the 2020/21 Bar Examinations, the bar exams on November 7, 14, 21 and 28 will be administered in at least 16 testing centers nationwide, five of them in Mindanao: the three Ateneos (Ateneo de Davao University in Davao City, Ateneo de Zamboanga University in Zamboanga City and Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan de Oro City) and the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) in Iligan City and MSU in General Santos City.
Mindanawons who are graduates of Law schools outside Mindanao – for example the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City or University of San Carlos in Cebu – can also take the bar exam in Mindanao, Leonen said in response to a query from MindaNews.
Last year’s bar exam was canceled due to the pandemic so this year’s bar is expected to have a high number of examinees, especially since the expense for the bar exams has been significantly reduced. Examinees in the provinces no longer need to worry about raising a huge amount for travel to and from Manila, and accommodations, food and inland travel in Manila. And in this time of the pandemic, the additional cost of RT-PCR tests if they travel to Manila.
According to Leonen, the testing sites in Luzon are Ateneo de Manila University, St. Louis University in Baguio City, Manila Adventist College, Saint Louis College in La Union, St. Mary’s University in Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan State University in Tuguegarao, University of Nueva Caceres in Bicol, and De La Salle in Lipa. In the Visayas, the testing sites are La Salle Bacolod, Central Philippine University in Iloilo and University of Cebu in Banilad
Leonen said the number of testing sites may reach 25 as the Supreme Court is still negotiating with “several large schools to accommodate more bar examinees.”
On July 8, the Supreme Court signed a contract with the Saint Louis University in Baguio City, asone of the testing centers for the 2020/2021 bar exams.
The Supreme Court’s Public Information Office reported that Leonen, in his presentation entitled “Looking Ahead: Meaningful Bar Reforms,” disclosed that the Supreme Court is “ready to conduct localized bar examinations, with students bringing their own devices into their own classrooms,” with each classroom positioned following the guidelines of the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force
on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Leonen also announced that the Supreme Court will launch on July 15 an online portal for the digital filing of petitions to take the Bar Examinations, dubbed “Bar PLUS” or Bar Personalized Login Unified System. “No longer will a Bar applicant have to go to Manila, (to) line up at the Office of the Bar Confidant,” the SC PIO’s press release quoted Leonen as saying.
Through Bar PLUS, applicants can submit their personal details, access the necessary forms for their application, upload petition requirements, and pay for their application digitally. Applicants will also be able to choose their preferred exam venue, subject to the approval of the Office of the Bar Confidant. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)